Akero Therapeutics Inc. (AKRO) shares experienced a significant drop of over 60% in premarket trading on Tuesday following the release of an update on its lead product candidate. The candidate is aimed at treating nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a type of fatty liver disease.
Lower-than-Expected Liver Fibrosis Improvement Rates
According to a statement released by Akero, only 22% to 24% of patients with compensated cirrhosis due to NASH who received the treatment, known as efruxifermin, demonstrated at least a one-stage improvement in liver fibrosis. This result represents the study's primary endpoint.
Impressive NASH Resolution Rates
Despite the lower-than-anticipated fibrosis improvement rates, the data revealed a promising outcome. Approximately 60% of patients receiving the treatment achieved NASH resolution after 36 weeks, compared to only 26% for those on placebo. Akero claims that these response rates are the highest reported to date for NASH resolution in this particular patient population.
Continued Potential for Patient Improvement
Dr. Andrew Cheng, Akero's President and CEO, acknowledged that the primary endpoint was set high within a short treatment period of 36 weeks. However, he believes that taking into account the overall data, including the trend of fibrosis improvement and the statistically significant rates of NASH resolution, efruxifermin has the potential to deliver further improvements for patients after completing the long-term follow-up period, which concludes at week 96.
In terms of stock performance, Akero shares have seen an 11.4% decline year-to-date, while the S&P 500 (SPX) has gained 12.9%.
Stay tuned for more updates on Akero Therapeutics' progress with their lead product candidate.
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