Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, a novel class of drugs that target tumors with DNA repair defects, have received tremendous enthusiasm. Early preclinical studies identified BRCA1 and BRCA2 tumors to be highly sensitive to PARP inhibitors as a result of homologous recombination defect. Based on this premise, PARP inhibitors have been tested in early phase clinical trials as a single agent in BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers and in combination with chemotherapy in triple-negative breast cancer patients. For high-risk populations, use of PARP inhibition as a prevention agent has been postulated, but no robust preclinical or clinical studies exist yet. We review the preclinical and clinical studies in treatment of breast cancer and rationale for use of PARP inhibitors as a prevention agent for high-risk populations. Of significance, PARP inhibitors vary significantly in mechanism of action, dosing intervals, and toxicities, which are highlighted in this review.
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