DNA repair vulnerabilities are present in a significant proportion of cancers. Specifically, germline alterations in DNA repair not only increase cancer risk but are associated with treatment response and clinical outcomes. The therapeutic landscape of cancer has rapidly evolved with the FDA approval of therapies that specifically target DNA repair vulnerabilities. The clinical success of synthetic lethality between BRCA deficiency and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibition has been truly revolutionary. Defective mismatch repair has been validated as a predictor of response to immune checkpoint blockade associated with durable responses and long-term benefit in many cancer patients. Advances in next generation sequencing technologies and their decreasing cost have supported increased genetic profiling of tumors coupled with germline testing of cancer risk genes in patients. The clinical adoption of panel testing for germline assessment in high-risk individuals has generated a plethora of genetic data, particularly on DNA repair genes. Here, we highlight the therapeutic relevance of germline aberrations in DNA repair to identify patients eligible for precision treatments such as PARP inhibitors (PARPis), immune checkpoint blockade, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and combined treatment. We also discuss emerging mechanisms that regulate DNA repair.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102337
Pages (from-to)102337
JournalCancer Treatment Reviews
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • DNA repair
  • Germline
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • PARP inhibitors
  • Precision oncology
  • Therapeutic response


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