AstraZeneca and MSD’s Lynparza (olaparib) has been approved in the European Union (EU) as monotherapy or in combination with endocrine therapy for the adjuvant treatment of adult patients with germline BRCA1/2 mutations (gBRCAm), who have human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative high-risk early breast cancer previously treated with neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy.
This approval by the European Commission was based on results from the OlympiA Phase III trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine in June 2021 and follows the recommendation for approval in the EU by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of Lynparza in this setting.1 In the trial, Lynparza demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in invasive disease-free survival (iDFS), reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer recurrences, new cancers, or death by 42% versus placebo (based on a hazard ratio [HR] of 0.58; 99.5% confidence interval [CI] 0.41-0.82; p<0.0001).
Lynparza also demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall survival (OS), reducing the risk of death by 32% versus placebo (based on a HR of 0.68; 98.5% CI 0.47-0.97; p=0.009). The safety and tolerability profile of Lynparza in this trial was in line with that observed in prior clinical trials.
Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer worldwide with an estimated 2.3 million patients diagnosed in 2020.2 Approximately 90% of all breast cancer patients worldwide are diagnosed with early breast cancer and BRCA mutations are found in approximately 10% of HER2-negative patients in Europe.3-5
Professor Andrew Tutt, Global Chair of the OlympiA Phase III trial and Professor of Oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and King’s College London, said: “Today’s approval marks a new era of care in Europe for patients with an inherited form of breast cancer. For patients with high-risk early-stage breast cancer, including those with germline BRCA mutations, recurrence rates remain unacceptably high, with more than one in four of these patients seeing their cancer return following surgery and systemic treatment. Olaparib is the first PARP inhibitor to demonstrate improved overall survival for high-risk early-stage breast cancer patients with germline BRCA mutations and I am hopeful it will become a new standard of care.”
Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca, said:
“With this approval, Lynparza is now the first and only PARP inhibitor available for patients with germline BRCA-mutated HER2-negative early breast cancer in Europe. We can now bring the benefits of Lynparza to this earlier setting to help reduce the risk of life-threatening recurrence.”
Dr Eliav Barr, Senior Vice President, Head of Global Clinical Development and Chief Medical Officer, MSD Research Laboratories, said: “Today’s approval offers patients with germline BRCA-mutated HER2-negative early-stage breast cancer a new, much-needed treatment option. Lynparza as adjuvant treatment can significantly reduce the risk of disease recurrence and death, reinforcing the importance of conducting germline BRCA testing as soon as possible after diagnosis.”
In March 2022, Lynparza was approved in the US for the treatment of gBRCAm, HER2-negative high-risk early breast cancer. Lynparza is also approved in the US, EU, Japan, and many other countries for the treatment of patients with gBRCAm, HER2-negative, metastatic breast cancer previously treated with chemotherapy based on results from the OlympiAD Phase III trial. In the EU, this indication also includes patients with locally advanced breast cancer.
Following this approval for Lynparza in the EU, AstraZeneca will receive a regulatory milestone payment from MSD of $75m, anticipated to be booked as Collaboration Revenue during the third quarter of 2022.
Early breast cancer
Early breast cancer is defined as cancer confined to the breast with or without regional lymph node involvement, and the absence of distant metastatic disease.6,7 In the EU, breast cancer alone accounts for approximately 29% of all cancers in women with 1 in 7 women developing the disease in their lifetime. In 2020, breast cancer accounted for an estimated 350,000 new cases and over 90,000 deaths.8 Despite advancements in the treatment of early breast cancer, up to 30% of patients with high-risk clinical and/or pathologic features recur within the first few years and patients with gBRCA mutations are more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age than those without these mutations.5,9
Breast cancer is one of the most biologically diverse tumour types with various factors fuelling its development and progression.10 The discovery of biomarkers in the development of breast cancer has greatly impacted scientific understanding of the disease.11
OlympiA is a Phase III, double-blind, parallel group, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial testing the efficacy and safety of Lynparza tablets versus placebo as adjuvant treatment in patients with gBRCAm high-risk HER2-negative early breast cancer, who have completed definitive local treatment and neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy.12
The primary endpoint of the trial was iDFS defined as time from randomisation to date of first locoregional or distant recurrence or new cancer or death from any cause.1
The OlympiA Phase III trial is led by the Breast International Group in partnership with the Frontier Science & Technology Research Foundation, NRG Oncology, the US National Cancer Institute, AstraZeneca and MSD. The trial is sponsored by NRG Oncology in the US and by AstraZeneca outside the US.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce proteins responsible for repairing damaged DNA and play an important role maintaining the genetic stability of cells.9 When either of these genes is mutated or altered such that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly, and cells become unstable. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional alterations that can lead to cancer. Cancers with BRCA mutations are more likely to be sensitive to PARP inhibitors including Lynparza.13-16
Lynparza (olaparib) is a first-in-class PARP inhibitor and the first targeted treatment to block DNA damage response (DDR) in cells/tumours harbouring a deficiency in homologous recombination repair (HRR), such as those with mutations in BRCA1 and/or BRCA2, or those where deficiency is induced by other agents (such as new hormonal agents – NHAs).
Inhibition of PARP proteins with Lynparza leads to the trapping of PARP bound to DNA single-strand breaks, stalling of replication forks, their collapse and the generation of DNA double-strand breaks and cancer cell death.
Lynparza is currently approved in a number of countries across PARP-dependent tumour types with defects and dependencies in the DDR pathway including maintenance treatment of platinum-sensitive relapsed ovarian cancer and as both monotherapy and in combination with bevacizumab for the 1st-line maintenance treatment of BRCA-mutated (BRCAm) and homologous recombination repair deficient (HRD)-positive advanced ovarian cancer, respectively; for gBRCAm, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer (in the EU and Japan this includes locally advanced breast cancer); for gBRCAm, HER2-negative high-risk early breast cancer (in the EU and US); for gBRCAm metastatic pancreatic cancer; and HRR gene-mutated metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (BRCAm only in the EU and Japan).
Lynparza, which is being jointly developed and commercialised by AstraZeneca and MSD, is the foundation of AstraZeneca’s industry-leading portfolio of potential new medicines targeting DDR mechanisms in cancer cells.
The AstraZeneca and MSD strategic oncology collaboration
In July 2017, AstraZeneca and Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, US, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, announced a global strategic oncology collaboration to co-develop and co-commercialise Lynparza, the world’s first PARP inhibitor, and Koselugo (selumetinib), a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK) inhibitor, for multiple cancer types.
Working together, the companies will develop Lynparza and Koselugo in combination with other potential new medicines and as monotherapies. The companies will develop Lynparza and Koselugo in combination with their respective PD-L1 and PD-1 medicines independently.
AstraZeneca in breast cancer
Driven by a growing understanding of breast cancer biology, AstraZeneca is starting to challenge and redefine the current clinical paradigm for how breast cancer is classified and treated, to deliver even more effective treatments to patients in need – with the bold ambition to one day eliminate breast cancer as a cause of death.
AstraZeneca has a comprehensive portfolio of approved and promising compounds in development that leverage different mechanisms of action to address the biologically diverse breast cancer tumour environment.
AstraZeneca aims to continue to transform outcomes for HR-positive breast cancer with foundational medicines Faslodex and Zoladex and the next-generation oral selective oestrogen receptor degrader (SERD) and potential new medicine camizestrant.
The PARP inhibitor, Lynparza, is an approved targeted treatment option for early and metastatic breast cancer patients with an inherited BRCA mutation. AstraZeneca with MSD continue to research Lynparza in breast cancer patients with an inherited BRCA mutation.
Building on the initial approvals of Enhertu, a HER2-directed antibody drug conjugate (ADC), in previously treated HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo are exploring its potential in earlier lines of treatment and in new breast cancer settings.
To bring much needed treatment options to patients with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer, AstraZeneca is testing immunotherapy Imfinzi in combination with other oncology medicines, including Lynparza and Enhertu, evaluating the potential of AKT kinase inhibitor, capivasertib, in combination with chemotherapy, and collaborating with Daiichi Sankyo to explore the potential of TROP2-directed ADC, datopotamab deruxtecan.
AstraZeneca in oncology
AstraZeneca is leading a revolution in oncology with the ambition to provide cures for cancer in every form, following the science to understand cancer and all its complexities to discover, develop and deliver life-changing medicines to patients.
The Company’s focus is on some of the most challenging cancers. It is through persistent innovation that AstraZeneca has built one of the most diverse portfolios and pipelines in the industry, with the potential to catalyse changes in the practice of medicine and transform the patient experience.
AstraZeneca has the vision to redefine cancer care and, one day, eliminate cancer as a cause of death.
AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialisation of prescription medicines in Oncology, Rare Diseases, and BioPharmaceuticals, including Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. Please visit astrazeneca.com and follow the Company on Twitter @AstraZeneca.