Lynparza reduced risk of death by 32% in the adjuvant treatment of patients with germline BRCA-mutated high-risk early breast cancer

First PARP inhibitor to demonstrate overall survival benefit in early breast cancer 

LONDON, UK I March 16, 2022 I Further positive results from the OlympiA Phase III trial showed AstraZeneca and MSD’s Lynparza (olaparib) demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall survival (OS) versus placebo in the adjuvant treatment of patients with germline BRCA-mutated (gBRCAm) high-risk human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative early breast cancer who had completed local treatment and standard neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy.

These results were presented today at a European Society for Medical Oncology Virtual Plenary. The OlympiA trial is led by the Breast International Group (BIG) in partnership with the Frontier Science & Technology Research Foundation (FSTRF), NRG Oncology, AstraZeneca and MSD.1

In the key secondary endpoint of OS, Lynparza reduced 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). Lynparza improved the three-year survival rate to 92.8% versus 89.1% for those on placebo. At four years, the survival benefit was maintained with 89.8% of patients treated with Lynparza alive versus 86.4% of those on placebo. The safety and tolerability profile of Lynparza in this trial was in line with that observed in prior clinical trials.

Primary results from the OlympiA Phase III trial were first presented during the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting and are published in The New England Journal of Medicine.2 The OS data and the primary results formed the basis for the recent approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of Lynparza in this setting.

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer worldwide with an estimated 2.3 million patients diagnosed in 2020.3 Nearly 91% of all breast cancer patients in the US are diagnosed at an early stage of disease and BRCA mutations are found in approximately 5-10% of patients.4,5

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: “OlympiA’s latest results are great news for patients with a specific inherited form of breast cancer. Most breast cancers are identified in the early stages and many patients will do very well, but for those with higher risk disease at diagnosis, the risk of cancer returning can be unacceptably high. OlympiA has now shown that olaparib not only reduced the risk of recurrence but also improved overall survival for women with high risk early-stage breast cancer and a BRCA1/2 mutation and is an exciting demonstration of the benefits of targeting the specific biology of disease for these women.” 

Susan Galbraith, Executive Vice President, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca, said: “These exciting results further support how Lynparza could significantly change the way people with germline BRCA-mutated early breast cancer are treated. The OlympiA trial is the first time we’ve seen a PARP inhibitor deliver survival benefit in early breast cancer, highlighting the importance of persistent innovation in tackling cancer early.”

Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Clinical Development, Chief Medical Officer, MSD Research Laboratories, said: “The results from the OlympiA trial highlight that patients with germline BRCA-mutated, HER2-negative, high-risk early breast cancer can both live longer and with reduced risk of disease recurrence when treated with Lynparza in the adjuvant setting, compared to placebo. These data further reinforce the importance of germline BRCA testing immediately after diagnosis to help identify patients who may be eligible for treatment with Lynparza.

Lynparza is approved in the US, EU, Japan and several 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.


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 In the US, the 5-year survival is 99% for localised breast cancer (only found in the breast area) and 86% for regional breast cancer (cancer that has spread outside the breast to nearby structures or lymph nodes).4 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.7

Breast cancer is one of the most biologically diverse tumour types with various factors fuelling its development and progression.8 The discovery of biomarkers in the development of breast cancer has greatly impacted scientific understanding of the disease.9

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.1

The primary endpoint of the trial is invasive disease-free survival defined as time from randomisation to date of first loco-regional or distant recurrence or new cancer or death from any cause.1

The Breast International Group (BIG) is an international not-for-profit organisation for academic breast cancer research groups from around the world, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Founded by leading European opinion leaders in 1999, the organisation aims to address fragmentation in breast cancer research and now represents a network of over 50 like-minded research groups affiliated with specialised hospitals, research centres and leading experts across approximately 70 countries on six continents.

BIG’s research is supported in part by its philanthropy unit, known as BIG against breast cancer, which is used to interact with the general public and donors, and to raise funds for BIG’s purely academic breast cancer trials and research programmes.

Frontier Science & Technology Research Foundation (FSTRF) is a non-profit, research organisation which supports research networks, pharmaceutical companies and investigators to conduct scientifically meaningful high-quality clinical trials. The OlympiA trial involved research staff in the US and in the Affiliate office in Scotland.

FSTRF works with scientists and technicians in more than 800 laboratories, universities and medical centres around the world to provide a comprehensive range of research services throughout the clinical trial process including design, analysis and reporting.

Through its work, FSTRF aims to advance the application of statistical science and practice and data management techniques in science, healthcare and education.

NRG Oncology
NRG Oncology is a network group funded by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), a part of the National Institutes of Health. NRG Oncology brings together the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), and the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), with the mission to improve the lives of cancer patients by conducting practice-changing multi-institutional clinical and translational research. NRG Oncology sponsored OlympiA in the US and collaborated with the other adult cancer clinical trials research groups funded by the NCI, Alliance, ECOG/ACRIN and the Southwest Oncology Group. The NCI and AstraZeneca are collaborating under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the parties.

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.10 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 genetic alterations that can lead to cancer and confer sensitivity to PARP inhibitors including Lynparza.10-13

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 germline BRCAm, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer (in the EU and Japan this includes locally advanced breast cancer); for germline BRCAm 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 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 first approval 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 and follow the Company on Twitter @AstraZeneca.


1. Olaparib as Adjuvant Treatment in Patients with Germline BRCA Mutated High Risk HER2 Negative Primary Breast Cancer (OlympiA). Available at Accessed February 2021.

2. Tutt ANJ, et al. Adjuvant Olaparib for Patients with BRCA1- or BRCA2-Mutated Breast Cancer. N Engl J Med 2021;384:2394-2405.

3. Sung H, et al. Global Cancer Statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN Estimates of Incidence and Mortality Worldwide for 36 Cancers in 185 Countries. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2020;0:1–41.

4. American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2019-2020. Available at Accessed February 2021.

5. Early-stage breast cancer. Available at Accessed February 2021.

6. Union for International Cancer Control. Early-stage breast cancer -2014 Review of Cancer Medicines on the WHO List of Essential Medicines. Available at Accessed February 2021.

7. Colleoni M, et al. Annual Hazard Rates of Recurrence for Breast Cancer During 24 Years of Follow-Up: Results From the International Breast Cancer Study Group Trials I to V. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Mar 20; 34(9):927–935.

8. Yersal O, Barutca S. Biological subtypes of breast cancer: Prognostic and therapeutic implications. World J Clin Oncol. 2014;5(3):412-424.

9. Rivenbark AG, et al. Molecular and Cellular Heterogeneity in Breast Cancer: Challenges for Personalized Medicine. Am J Pathol. 2013;183:1113-1124.

10. Roy R, et al. BRCA1 and BRCA2: different roles in a common pathway of genome protection. Nat Rev Cancer. 2016;12(1):68-78.

11. Wu J, et al. The role of BRCA1 in DNA damage response. Protein Cell 2010;1(2):117-123.

12. Gorodetska I, et al. BRCA Genes: The Role in Genome Stability, Cancer Stemness and Therapy Resistance. Journal of Cancer. 2019;10:2109-2127.

13. Li H, et al. PARP inhibitor resistance: the underlying mechanisms and clinical implications. Molecular Cancer. 2020;19:1-16.

SOURCE: AstraZeneca

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