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(Bloomberg) -- AstraZeneca Plc’s next-generation cancer therapy Imfinzi, in combination with another drug, failed to check the growth of lung tumors better than chemotherapy in one of the pharmaceutical industry’s most anticipated studies of the year.

The drug, which was poised to become AstraZeneca’s biggest medicine by sales, used in combination with tremelimumab, didn’t meet a primary endpoint for progression free survival in the study dubbed Mystic for patients whose tumors expressed the PD-L1 biomarker on 25 percent or more of their cancer cells, the U.K. drugmaker said in a statement on Thursday. The study will continue to assess the efficacy of the drug in overall survival for just Imfinzi and the combination.

The failure calls into question Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot’s ability to deliver on his growth strategy, put in place to keep the company independent when he rebuffed Pfizer Inc.’s $117 billion-takeover bid in 2014, and to meet ambitious long-term sales targets.

Astra’s stock soared to a record last month in anticipation of the trial results, climbing past the 55 pounds-a-share that Pfizer (Inc.) offered to buy the company three years ago.

Deadly lung tumors have become a key battleground for drugmakers in the closely contested race to develop life-saving cancer therapies.

To contact the reporters on this story: James Paton in London at jpaton4@bloomberg.net, Naomi Kresge in Berlin at nkresge@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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