AstraZeneca plans to test new cancer medicine in coronavirus battle

Calquence will be tested on hospitalized Covid-19 patients, including some in intensive care, in a large randomized trial.
AstraZeneca will start testing one of its new cancer medicines, Calquence, to see whether it can quell the excessive immune response Covid-19 triggers in some patients.

 
The treatment for lymphoma may lessen the severity of respiratory distress by reducing the inflammation caused by the new coronavirus, the Cambridge, England-based drugmaker said Tuesday in a statement.

Calquence will be tested on hospitalized Covid-19 patients, including some in intensive care, in a large randomized trial. The first participants will be recruited in the US and several European countries in coming days, Astra said.

The UK drugmaker hopes “to demonstrate that adding Calquence to best supportive care reduces the need to place patients on ventilators and improves their chances of survival,” Jose Baselga, who heads cancer research at Astra, said in the statement.

 
The medicine targets a protein known as BTK that regulates inflammation. In some patients, Covid-19 triggers an extreme immune reaction called a cytokine storm, which can be deadly.

 
Astra gained as much as 7.3 per cent in early London trading, while the FTSE 100 Index rose as much as 0.9 per cent. Astra had said over the long UK holiday weekend that Koselugo, a drug for a rare, painful childhood condition, was approved in the US, and that Tagrisso appeared to work so well as adjuvant therapy in certain lung cancer patients a study investigating its effect was stopped early.

 


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