PARPs (or Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerases) are proteins that play an important role in the life of a cell. When a strand of the DNA double helix is broken or damaged, PARPs act as a repair crew to help fix the damaged site, allowing the cell to live.
For healthy cells that’s a good result. However, in cancer cells where DNA repair is already hindered because of a breakdown in a different repair crew, PARPs can allow the cells to remain alive, grow, and divide.
Drugs that inhibit or stop PARPs from doing their job can prevent such cancer cells from proliferating, creating a potential treatment option for some patients. Watch this short illustrated video to see how PARP inhibitors work.