What happened

Cerus Corporation (CERS -0.59%) stock shot up 25.4% in early-morning trading after the company announced an important clinical trial success. The stock has settled to a gain of 21% as of 11:33 a.m. EST on Wednesday.

So what 

Sales of Intercept Blood System products designed for platelets and plasma have slowly risen since earning approvals in 2014, but Cerus Corporation's operating expenses have accelerated much faster. During the 12 months ended last September, the company's operations lost $62 million. The red blood cell component (RBC) of the company's transfusion franchise could help close the gap, and today it took a step in the right direction. 

Upward sloping chart and dollar signs.

Image source: Getty Images.

Cerus reported results from a trial that involved 86 thalassemia patients receiving transfusions with both conventional RBCs and Intercept-treated RBCs. The study met its main efficacy goal, showing treated RBCs reduced average hemoglobin consumption without setting off any safety alarms.

Thalassemia patients generally require frequent transfusions that lead to many complications. If Cerus can convince the FDA and the medical community that Intercept-treated RBCs can reduce the overall burden, a potential drug approval would be good news for the company and for thalassemia patients.

Now what

Today's results are an important step, but Cerus isn't out of the woods yet. The company's operations lost around $62 million over the past year and finished September of 2017 with just enough cash to see it through the next 12 months.

Today's results come from just one of three phase 3 trials the company will run to support a planned submission to the FDA. Last November, the Agency granted Cerus permission to begin a much larger, 600-patient study to assess the ability of Intercept-treated RBCs to reduce kidney injury among patients undergoing heart surgeries.