Shares of biotechnology company Akero Therapeutics took a significant hit in premarket trading on Tuesday following the update on its Phase 2b study for the treatment of compensated cirrhosis due to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The South San Francisco-based company provided an interim update on the 96-week study of its lead product candidate, efruxifermin. The study aimed to assess fibrosis improvement in patients with NASH. Results showed that 22% of patients in the 28-milligram dose group and 24% in the 50-milligram group saw at least a one-stage improvement in liver fibrosis and no worsening of NASH. This is in comparison to only 14% of patients in the placebo group.

The primary endpoint of the study is to determine the proportion of subjects who achieve at least a one-stage improvement in fibrosis without any worsening of NASH. Akero Therapeutics expressed optimism that efruxifermin could demonstrate further improvements for patients once the 96-week follow-up period is complete.

NASH, a chronic liver condition caused by the accumulation of fat in the liver, affects approximately 17 million Americans. Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs specifically for treating NASH.

Following the announcement, shares of Akero Therapeutics, which closed at $48.54 on Monday, dropped by 58% to $20.32 in premarket trading.

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