AstraZeneca Shares Surge After Launching Clinical Trial For Coronavirus Treatment

The drugmaker's leukemia treatment, Calquence, could ease coronavirus symptoms and reduce the need for respirators in severly-ill patients, the company said.

AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Report shares topped the London market Tuesday after the drugmaker said it would being clinical trials of one of its key cancer treatments on cornavrius patients.

AstraZeneca said its leukemia and blood cancer drug acalabrutinib drug, known as  Calquence, would be given to patients suffering from severe coronavirus related illnesses. Calquence, AstraZeneca said, could ease the severity of COVID-19-induced respiratory distress and may ultimately reduce the need for assisted ventilation for patients that are in the disease's advanced stages.

The trial is expected to open for enrollment in the coming days, AstraZeneca said, and will take place in western Europe and the United States. 

"With this trial we are responding to the novel insights of the scientific community and hope to demonstrate that adding Calquence to best supportive care reduces the need to place patients on ventilators and improves their chances of survival," said AstraZeneca vice president Jose Baselga. "This is the fastest launch of any clinical trial in the history of AstraZeneca."

 AstraZeneca shares were marked 6.1% higher in London trading Tuesday and changing hands at £75.55 each. Its U.S.-listed shares, which rose 6.05% yesterday, were marked 0.17% higher in pre-market trading at $47.44 each.