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AstraZeneca asthma drug tralokinumab disappoints again

LONDON (Reuters) - An experimental biotech drug for severe asthma from AstraZeneca (AZN.L) has failed in further clinical tests, following an earlier setback in May and disappointing results with a similar drug at Roche (ROG.S).

AstraZeneca said on Wednesday that tralokinumab's failure in the latest two Phase III studies was "disappointing".

Investors, however, took the news in their stride and the shares rose 1.3 percent in early trade as the setback was not unexpected and was offset by the good news of early approval for AstraZeneca's blood cancer drug Calquence.

Tralokinumab had been viewed as a risky project after Roche reported disappointing results with its similar medicine lebrikizumab last year. Both drugs block a protein called interleukin-13.

AstraZeneca also has another experimental drug for severe asthma called benralizumab that works in a different way and is currently awaiting regulatory approval. It will compete with other recently approved treatments such as GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK.L) Nucala.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Jason Neely)