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AstraZeneca (LON:AZN) makes progress in the fight against liver cancer

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Last week, the AstraZeneca (LSE:AZN) share price didn’t move much despite exciting news emerging from its clinical trials. The company reported positive high-level results from its HIMALAYA phase three trial. Patients dosed with a combination of tremelimumab and durvalumab, two monoclonal antibodies, showed a statistically significant and meaningful improvement in overall survival against hepatocellular carcinoma.

That’s quite a mouthful. But in more simple terms, AstraZeneca has found a new combination of drugs that improves the odds of patients surviving a dominant form of liver cancer.

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Why is this impressive?

Pharmaceutical companies have made enormous progress on cancer drugs over the last decade. Despite this, cancer continues to be the second leading cause of death worldwide. Liver cancer is currently the third most deadly, with approximately 900,000 people diagnosed each year.

According to a 2019 study published in the Digestive Diseases and Sciences journal, hepatocellular carcinoma is responsible for 75% of all liver cancer cases. And patients in the advanced stages of the disease only have a 7% chance of surviving longer than five years.

These latest trial results indicate this number is set to improve in the near future. That’s why the principal investigator, Ghassan Abou-Alfa, said,:“This is very exciting news for our patients.”

What it means for the AstraZeneca share price

In the short term, the AstraZeneca share price is unlikely to move on this news. But over the long term, if regulators approve this new drug regimen, the company could achieve substantial growth. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global liver cancer therapeutics market size is expected to grow by 20.2% annually until 2027, reaching over $7.3bn.

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Zaven Boyrazian has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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