- AstraZeneca said interim analysis of the phase III Ascent trial showed that its chronic lymphocytic leukaemia drug had significantly prolonged the time patients live without the disease.

An encouraging 88% of patients on AstraZeneca's Calquence remained free of disease progression after 12 months, compared with just 68% of patients on rituximab combined with idelalisib or bendamustine, the company said.

At a median follow-up of 16.1 months, results from the trial showed a statistically-significant and clinically-meaningful improvement in progression-free survival for patients treated with Calquence versus idelalisib or bendamustine, reducing the risk of disease progression or death by 69%, the company added.

The Ascend trial compared Calquence with the physician's choice of rituximab combined with idelalisib (IdR) or bendamustine (BR) in patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

'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, Oncology R&D.

'These data, along with our recent positive results from the Phase III ELEVATE-TN trial in previously-untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, will serve as the foundation for regulatory submissions later this year.'

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