Cambridge-based AstraZeneca to test one of its cancer medicines for Covid-19 patients

Cambridge pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced plans to launch a global trial to test one of its new cancer medicines for Covid-19 patients.

The company said it was rushing through testing for Calquence, a drug which is currently used to treat some blood cancers.

AstraZeneca believe it could cut the number of deaths from coronavirus and the need for ventilation in patients with life-threatening symptoms of the virus.

It marks the group's fastest ever trial launch, which is expected to open in the coming days across the US and several countries in Europe.

This is the fastest launch of any clinical trial in the history of AstraZeneca Credit: PA

Astra's trial, called Calavi, will look at the use of Astra's drug Calquence for Covid-19 patients to boost theirchances of survival.

Louis Staudt, chief of the lymphoid malignancies branch at the National Cancer Institute, said: "Given the well documented role of the protein BTK inregulating inflammation, it is possible that inhibiting BTK with acalabrutinibcould provide clinical benefit in patients with advanced Covid-19 lung disease.

"As with all new treatments, it will be necessary to gather data from clinicaltrials in order to understand the best and safest treatment options forpatients."