What happened

Shares of the clinical-stage biotech Galectin Therapeutics (NASDAQ:GALT) are ripping higher today after the company announced a new patent covering the use of GR-MD-02 as a means to treat pulmonary fibrosis. The patent reportedly extends the experimental drug's period of exclusivity until 2032.

As of 12:25 p.m. EDT, Galectin's shares still are up by a respectable 13.3% on the back of this news. 

Man in business attire drawing an upward trending curve with his index finger.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Perhaps the real reason Galectin's shares took flight, however, is one specific comment in the press release made by the company's CEO Dr. Harold H. Shlevin. He stated that, "Pharmaceutical companies may have an interest in this disease as there is a sizable section of the population in need of treatment and well defined regulatory pathways for approval of agents to treat pulmonary fibrosis." Stated simply, Galectin's CEO seems to be hinting that a larger partner may want to sign a lucrative licensing deal now that this technology has a solid intellectual portfolio around it. 

Now what

If true, this turn of events could be a watershed moment in the company's life cycle. After releasing mixed midstage results for GR-MD-02 as a possible treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis last year, the company has been having trouble finding a way forward. In fact, Galectin's management has reportedly been considering an outright sale of the company due to its exceedingly weak financial position and apparent inability to shepherd a drug successfully through the clinical-trials process.

The bottom line here is that this new patent could add some much needed fuel to any ongoing negotiations with a buyer or potential licensee -- and that should be welcome news for Galectin's stakeholders, given the company's dire need for fresh sources of cash.