AstraZeneca sees further encouraging effects from leukaemia treatment Calquence

Interim analysis of a phase III clinical trial has revealed that after 12 months, 88% of people saw no progression of the disease if they were given the drug

AstraZeneca intends to make regulatory submissions for the drug later this year

An AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) drug being developed to treat chronic lymphocytic leukaemia has shown that it significantly prolongs the time patients can live without the disease progressing.

An interim analysis of a phase III clinical trial has revealed that after 12 months, 88% of people who have previously treated for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia saw no progression of the disease if they were being given Calquence, compared to 68% for those patients using the physician's choice of rituximab combined with idelalisib or bendamustine.

READ: AstraZeneca drug for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia successfully navigates phase III Elevate trial

After just over 16 months of the Ascend trial, Calquence has been found to reduce the risk of disease progression or death by 69%.

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is the most common type of leukaemia in adults, with an estimated 191,000 new cases globally.

This trial is the first randomised test directly comparing a single drug against standard chemo-immunotherapy or idelalisib and rituximab combinations, doctors conducting the trial said. 

“These data add to the growing body of evidence to support the profile of Calquence as a selective BTK inhibitor that offers a chemotherapy-free treatment option with a favourable safety profile in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, a life-threatening disease,” said José Baselga, executive vice president of Astra’s oncology research and development arm.

He said the Ascend data would be combined with recent positive results from other trials to serve as the foundation for regulatory submissions later this year, Baselga said.

Broker Shore Capital said the detailed data was "very promising" and "very significant" for the group's haematology franchise, but a head-to-head trial versus market leader Imbruvica was "the more likely catalyst to drive consensus upgrades upon a successful result". 

AstraZeneca shares were down 0.3% to 6,198p on Moday morning.

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