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AstraZeneca says Tagrisso shown to slow lung cancer spreading to brain

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FILE PHOTO: Logo of AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: Logo of AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the NYSE in New York

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - AstraZeneca's <AZN.L> top-selling drug Tagrisso has been shown to slow the spread of a certain type of lung cancer to the brain when diagnosed at an early stage, the British drugmaker said on Saturday.

A study with patients diagnosed early enough for the lung tumour to be surgically removed, and who have a mutation of the so-called EGFR gene, found that Tagrisso cut the risk of developing brain metastases by 82%.

The late-stage Phase III trial results - presented at the virtual European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) conference over the weekend - underscore the drug's potential and may encourage a push to diagnose lung cancer earlier for patients to benefit from the drug, Astra said.

According to earlier findings of the same trial known as ADAURA published in May, Tagrisso held back early-stage EGFR mutated lung cancer, potentially adding billions to its sales potential.

Revenue from Tagrisso climbed 43% to $2 billion in the first half of the year, mainly from EGFR-mutated lung cancer diagnosed when it has already spread to other body parts, driving sales growth in oncology.

The EGFR mutation is found in about a quarter of global lung cancer cases, but the rate in Asia can be more than 40%.

The group has been discussing possible approval for a use of the drug in the early disease setting with global regulators. Analysts have predicted additional sales potential for the drug of between $1 billion and $3 billion from the ADAURA trial.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by David Holmes)