Shares in UK-based AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) jumped on Tuesday morning after the drug company said it was to begin testing a treatment for COVID-19.

In further promising news, AstraZeneca said it progressed a lung cancer drug trial early due to high efficacy of the drug Tagrisso.

The AstraZeneca share price was up over 6% higher in early trade on Tuesday morning.

COVID-19 treatment

The Cambridge-based pharmaceutical giant said it was to begin clinical trials on Calquence to access effectiveness in treating patients with COVID-19.

The drug is already approved for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia which has helped AstraZeneca push forward with trials for COVID-19 patients in record time.

It is thought Calquence will reduce the inflammation of the lungs caused by the body’s immune system response as it fights the COVID-19 infection.

José Baselga, Executive Vice President, Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca said “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. This is the fastest launch of any clinical trial in the history of AstraZeneca.”

Lung cancer trials

In addition to the commencement of COVID-19 trials, AstraZeneca announced encouraging results from a clinical trial of lung caner drug Tagrisso.

The Phase 3 trial will be taken to the next stage of unblinded trials early due to strong levels of efficacy in a trial of Tagrisso in 682 patients.

Patients in the study were given 80mg oral doses of Tagrisso once daily and the success of the trial means AstraZeneca can accelerate the trial by as much as two years.

If successful, Tagrisso has the potential to become a multi-billion pound drug for AstraZeneca and will answer many questions about the strength of Astra’s drug pipeline.

The AstraZeneca share price was up 5.2% to 7,502p on Tuesday morning following the results having faded from sessions highs.