Somatic BRCA1/2 Recovery as a Resistance Mechanism After Exceptional Response to Poly (ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibition

Lheureux S, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2017.

Purpose Durable and long-term responses to the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitor olaparib are observed in patients without BRCA1/2 mutations. However, beyond BRCA1/2 mutations, there are no approved biomarkers for olaparib in high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). To determine mechanisms of durable response and resistance to olaparib therapy, we performed an analysis of HGSOC tumors from three patients without germline BRCA1/2 mutations who experienced exceptional responses to olaparib. Patients and Methods We performed integrated exome, low-pass genome, and RNA sequence analysis of tumors at diagnosis and upon relapse from patients with platinum-sensitive HGSOC recurrence who were treated > 5 years with olaparib therapy as a single agent. Results We observed somatic disruption of BRCA1/2 in all three patients at diagnosis, followed by subsequent BRCA recovery upon progression by copy number gain and/or upregulation of the remaining functional allele in two patients. The third patient with ongoing response (> 7 years) had a tumor at diagnosis with biallelic somatic deletion and loss-of-function mutation, thereby lacking a functional allele for recovery of BRCA1 activity and indicating a potential cure. Conclusion Olaparib has durable benefit for patients with ovarian cancer beyond germline BRCA1/2 carriers. These data suggest that biallelic loss of BRCA1/2 in cancer cells may be a potential marker of long-term response to poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibition and that restoration of homologous repair function may be a mechanism of disease resistance.