MARKET REPORT: Lung cancer drug gives AstraZeneca a shot in arm

Investors welcomed a string of positive updates about AstraZeneca’s lung cancer treatments.

Results from a trial showed that the pharmaceutical giant’s drug Tagrisso, a tablet taken once a day, alongside chemotherapy delayed the disease progressing by nearly nine months.

The combination also reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 38 per cent compared to simply using the drug alone.

As a result, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the treatment, meaning AstraZeneca’s drug can be used on its own or together with chemotherapy for patients suffering from advanced lung cancer.

AstraZeneca also reported encouraging results from another trial that showed the positive impact Tagrisso had in treating patients with lung cancer when it was used after chemoradiotherapy.

Trial success: AstraZeneca¿s lung cancer drug Tagrisso, a tablet taken once a day,  used alongside chemotherapy delayed the disease progressing by nearly nine months

Trial success: AstraZeneca’s lung cancer drug Tagrisso, a tablet taken once a day,  used alongside chemotherapy delayed the disease progressing by nearly nine months

And in a third update, the company said an antibody drug it is developing with the Japanese pharma firm Daiichi Sankyo to treat lung cancer was closing in on gaining approval from US regulators. 

Susan Galbraith, executive vice-president of oncology R&D at AstraZeneca, said: ‘Sometimes people are too nihilistic about lung cancer. If you diagnose it early, you can make a difference to this disease.’

AstraZeneca wants around half of all lung cancer patients to be eligible for its treatments by 2030.

Sean Conroy, an analyst at Shore Capital, said that while the announcements were ‘largely expected, they all incrementally help to make that 2030 ambition look more deliverable’.

Shares in the pharma group added 3.2 per cent, or 324p, to 10,418p. With the US markets closed for Presidents’ Day, trading was muted in London.

The FTSE 100 managed to edge up 0.22 per cent, or 16.79 points, to 7728.50 and the FTSE 250 only managed to inch up 0.13 per cent, or 24.97 points, to 19,216.90.

Anglo American is to cut 3,700 jobs in South Africa – around a fifth of its staff – after profits plunged following a slump in metal prices.

Stock Watch – Cel AI

David Beckham has sold his stake in a company that makes cannabinoid-infused candles, oils and face creams.

The former England and Manchester United football captain’s DB Ventures business owned around 5 per cent of Cel AI when it floated in February 2021. 

But the skincare and wellness brand – which until last week was known as Cellular Goods – has been hampered by various setbacks ever since.

Cel AI shares fell 6.3 per cent, or 0.03p, to 0.38p.

Craig Miller, chief executive of the mining giant’s platinum business, said it was ‘important to understand that this has been a decision taken as a last resort for the company’.

Producers have been hampered by falling demand as the shift to electric cars is replacing the need for the metals used to make catalytic converters in combustion engine vehicles. Shares slid 1.3 per cent, or 24.2p, to 1778p.

Troubled music firm Hipgnosis Songs Fund is set for a High Court showdown with its investment adviser and former boss who has been accused of stealing the idea for the company. 

The London-listed business has asked Merck Mercuriadis, who set up the group in 2018, to cover the costs of any potential settlement that may arise from the claims filed against him in court last year.

He is alleged to have taken the idea from a fellow executive in the music industry.

But Hipgnosis said that Mercuriadis, who is defending the claims, insisted the accusations are ‘without merit’, and has refused to do so. 

The fund is taking him to the High Court to secure a legally-binding commitment. Shares fell 0.2 per cent, or 0.1p, to 66p.

Rolls-Royce shares hit their highest level since February 2019. The stock – which has more than tripled in value since Tufan Erginbilgic took over as chief executive last year – surged 3.4 per cent, or 10.9p, to 334.2p.

Heading in the other direction was British Gas owner Centrica after its rating was downgraded by analysts at Jefferies and Citigroup amid concerns over its business costs. Shares slipped 6 per cent, or 8.3p, to 130.8p.

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