What happened

Viking Therapeutics (NASDAQ:VKTX), a clinical-stage biotech, saw its shares rise by as much as 180% in premarket trading today. The spark?

Viking's shares are soaring in response to a positive mid-stage result for its experimental nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) medicine VK2809. Most critically, the drug seems to compare favorably to Madrigal Pharmaceuticals' (NASDAQ:MDGL) MGL-3196 in terms of both safety and efficacy.

As a reminder, Madrigal's shares exploded higher earlier this year after reporting mid-stage results for MGL-3196. So, not surprisingly, Madrigal's shares sank by a staggering 14% in pre-market trading on the news that a major rival might have a more potent drug in development. 

A rocket taking flight.

Image Source: Getty Images.

So what

The key takeaway here is that VK2809 now appears not only to be a viable NASH candidate, but it could be a best-in-class medicine to boot. That's a big deal, because the NASH market is forecast to reach a whopping $35 billion in sales over the next decade, and there are currently no drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this high-value indication. 

Now what

Viking plans to unveil the study's details at the upcoming annual Liver Meeting, hosted by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, this November. Before then, however, Viking might have even more good news for investors.

Specifically, the company is set to release additional findings from its mid-stage hip fracture candidate, VK5211, at the end of this month at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research meeting. While this drug has arguably been overlooked by investors to some degree, industry insiders think VK5211 could generate blockbuster-level sales as well. As such, shareholders should definitely tune in to what the company has to say about VK5211's clinical program later this month. 

Bottom line: This developmental biotech could have a lot more room to run if both of its mid-stage drug candidates continue to produce stellar clinical trial results going forward. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.