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Ann Oncol. 2011 Feb;22(2):268-79. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdq322. Epub 2010 Jul 19.

A review of PARP inhibitors: from bench to bedside.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Insitut BergoniƩ Cancer Center and University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.



Poly(adenosine diphosphate [ADP]-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, with novel and selective mechanisms of action, have moved from the laboratory to the clinic in just the last few years.


We conducted an extensive review of PARP inhibitors using a Medline search. We also searched abstracts in databases of major international oncology meetings from the last 4 years.


To understand the mechanisms of action of PARP inhibitors requires a basic understanding of DNA repair mechanisms and the critical role of the PARP enzyme. We briefly review these DNA repair mechanisms, the concept of 'synthetic lethality', and how PARP inhibitors play a role to selectively disrupt DNA repair in cells with absent or dysfunctional BRCA genes. We review the preclinical data highlighting this unique and selective mechanism of action and we discuss early but highly promising clinical data and ongoing studies.


PARP inhibitors show promise as a powerful therapeutic tool, especially in the management of BRCA-associated breast and ovarian cancers but also in tumours where BRCA genes may be dysfunctional. Clinical studies are ongoing and many translational questions remain unanswered that will help clarify how to determine the best way to use PARP inhibitors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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