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Akero Therapeutics lead drug meets main goal in NASH trial, shares jump

Sept 13 (Reuters) – Akero Therapeutics Inc. (AKRO.O) said on Tuesday its lead experimental drug met the main goal for treatment of a type of fatty liver disease, sending the company’s shares soaring more than 60% in premarket trading.

Both doses of the drug, efruxifermin, being studied in a mid-stage trial showed improvement in patients with pre-cirrhotic nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) by week 24 compared with the placebo arm, according to the company.

It is estimated that about 5% of adults in the United States have NASH, according to the American Liver Foundation, but there is no approved treatment for the ailment.

This makes it a lucrative opportunity for drugmakers, with Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N) as well as smaller companies such as Madrigal Pharmaceuticals Inc. (MDGL.O) and Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ICPT.O) developing treatments.

About 40% of the patients in each of the 50 mg and 28 mg dosage groups showed at least a one-stage improvement in liver scarring by week 24 compared with 20% for the placebo arm, Akero said, adding that the study also met its secondary endpoints.

Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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Source: Reuters