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AstraZeneca’s lupus drug falls at final hurdle

Only one new lupus treatment has been approved in the last 60 years, so today’s news won’t come as a surprise to many scientists and doctors

cells in the body
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue

AstraZeneca PLC’s (LON:AZN) anifrolumab lupus treatment has failed in a late-stage study.

Top-line results from the TULIP 1 Phase III trial showed adult patients with moderate-to-severe systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) saw no “statistically significant” reduction in their disease after a year of taking the drug.

READ: AstraZeneca’s new diabetes autoinjector pen approved by European regulators

SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue in the body instead of primarily targeting viruses or other foreign invaders.

It can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, rashes, fatigue, swelling in joints and fevers.

Chief medical officer Sean Bohen said the results were “disappointing” for both the company and patients.

Given that only one new lupus treatment has been approved in the last 60 years, news of today’s failure won’t shock many in the medical community.

“This is the second weak dataset from Astra this month following the recent update on Bevespi, and although neither asset is a major contributor to the return to growth or the valuation, we believe upgrades need to keep coming through if the bull case is to play out,” said Liberum analyst Roger Franklin.

“We are holders and value Astra at £53/share (TP) albeit recent sterling weakness would add around £1/share.”

Astra shares dipped 0.6% to 5,876p in early deals on Friday.

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