Akero’s drug reduces fatty liver scarring in mid-stage trial

March 4 (Reuters) – Akero Therapeutics’ (AKRO.O) drug to treat a type of fatty liver disease helped significantly reduce scarring after nearly two years in a study, it said on Monday, as the company targets a potential multi-billion-dollar market.
 
The company’s shares were last up 33% in premarket trading after nearly doubling in value initially.
 
Akero was testing its lead drug in a mid-stage trial for the treatment of metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH), a huge unmet need in the U.S.
 
The condition, earlier called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), affects around 5% of the population, according to the American Liver Foundation, but has no approved drugs after numerous failures over the last few years.
 
After 96 weeks, biopsies of patients showed that Akero’s drug, efruxifermin, helped reduce scarring in the liver by at least one stage in 75% of patients who took the higher dose, and in 46% of those on the lower dose, compared to 24% for placebo.