Akero Therapeutics Breakthrough in MASH Treatment


Less than a month after Eli Lilly released trial results that seemed to shake up the market for treatments targeting liver fibrosis in patients with MASH, Akero Therapeutics has come back swinging with data that has captured the attention of analysts across the industry.

Revolutionary Results

Liver fibrosis, the scarring of liver tissue, is a key indicator of advanced liver disease. In a recent mid-stage study, Akero reported that an impressive 75% of MASH patients who received a high dose of efruxifermin, the company’s innovative drug, saw an improvement in fibrosis of at least one stage. This starkly contrasts with the 24% improvement rate seen in patients who were administered a placebo.

Unveiling the Potential

Akero’s data represents a significant breakthrough in the treatment of MASH, suggesting that their drug may be capable of mitigating the severe effects of this condition more effectively than any other competitor in the market.

Market Setback and Recovery

In early February, Eli Lilly made waves with their own MASH data, showcasing notable success with tirzepatide in treating liver inflammation and fibrosis. This development initially sent shockwaves through the biotech sector, causing a dip in Akero’s stock price. The concern was that Lilly’s multi-purpose drug might overshadow the demand for specialized MASH treatments in development by other companies.

Strides Towards Success

While Lilly’s data was undoubtedly impactful, lacking specific details on the improvement in fibrosis left room for interpretation. Conversely, Akero’s recent announcement has not only surpassed expectations but has also outperformed existing data from competing companies. Analysts are praising Akero’s Phase 2B results as exemplary within the field of therapeutic advancements for liver diseases.

Market Response

Following Akero’s groundbreaking revelations, shares surged to $35.51 on Monday morning, marking a significant 28% increase from their previous closing price. This positive momentum stands in stark contrast to the drop experienced post-Lilly’s tirzepatide data release earlier this month.

As Akero continues to lead the charge in developing cutting-edge treatments for MASH, the industry eagerly anticipates further innovations and advancements on the horizon.

Akero Shares Show Resilience Amid Safety Data Release

Akero shares experienced a slight pullback on Monday as the company unveiled detailed safety data during a conference call. The trial involving 126 patients revealed 15 serious adverse events, with two investigators attributing them to the drug.

Analysts’ Insights and Market Response

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Prakhar Agrawal offered reassuring sentiments ahead of the call, emphasizing that concerns over competitors like Lilly’s tirzepatide impacting Akero’s commercial prospects were dispelled by the results. Agrawal dismissed worries about the impact of GLP1 combinations on market potential for anti-fibrotic drugs such as EFX.

In response to the developments, 89bio, another biotech working on a similar MASH drug, saw a 22% increase in stock value on Monday.

Understanding MASH: A Growing Market Opportunity

Originally referred to as NASH, MASH is a complex liver condition that poses risks of cancer and liver failure. Despite its prevalence, MASH remains relatively unknown to the public. However, pharmaceutical companies have long pursued treatments due to the large market potential.

Patients with MASH suffer from liver scarring caused by inflammation and fat accumulation, leading to progressive fibrosis over time.

Ongoing Developments in Treatment Approaches

While the pharmaceutical industry has faced disappointments in this area, companies like Akero and Madrigal Pharmaceuticals persist in their quest for effective treatments. Initial comparisons suggest that Akero’s drug stands out in reducing fibrosis, with a significantly higher success rate compared to Madrigal’s experimental drug.

Madrigal’s shares experienced a modest 0.1% increase on Monday amidst the industry buzz.

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