Cancer drug could protect people from the worst effects of Covid-19

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Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced plans to launch a global clinical trial to study the use of one of its drugs to help treat the immune response triggered by Covid-19 in critically ill patients.

The British medicines group said it was testing Calquence – which is currently used to treat certain blood cancers – after encouraging early clinical results, it suggested that suppressing inflammation caused by the immune response could reduce respiratory damage from coronavirus.

This could reduce deaths from Covid-19 and the need for ventilation in patients with life-threatening symptoms of the virus, said Astra.

Jose Baselga, Executive Vice President of Oncology Research and Development at Astra, said: “With this trial, we are responding to new ideas from the scientific community and hope to demonstrate that adding Calquence to the best supportive care reduces the need to place patients on ventilators and improves their chances of survival.

“This is the fastest launch of any clinical trial in the history of AstraZeneca.”

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