What happened

Shares of Eiger BioPharmaceuticals (EIGR -6.22%) were skyrocketing 19% higher as of 3:10 p.m. EDT on Thursday. The big jump came after the company announced positive results from an investigator-sponsored clinical study evaluating peginterferon lambda (Lambda) in treating COVID-19 in an outpatient setting.

So what

Sixty patients were enrolled in the phase 2 study conducted at Toronto General Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and sponsored by Toronto's University Health Network. Half of the patients were given a single subcutaneous dose of Lamba and the other half of the patients were given placebo. The patients were then followed for 14 days.

Physician wearing a face mask holding a clipboard and standing next to a patient wearing a mask

Image source: Getty Images.

Eiger reported that patients treated with Lambda were greater than four times more likely to have cleared their SARS-CoV-2 viral loads after seven days than patients who received placebo. The company also said patients who were given Lambda experienced few adverse events. University of Toronto associate professor of medicine Jordan Feld said that Eiger's experimental drug appeared to work "particularly well in patients with high baseline viral loads."

Positive clinical results almost always serve as catalysts for clinical-stage biotech stocks. Eiger's big move today makes sense, especially considering the high level of investors' interest in COVID-19 therapies. However, additional testing will be needed to confirm Lambda's potential in treating patients with COVID-19.

Now what

While Lambda is at the center of attention right now, another of Eiger's pipeline candidates could soon be in the limelight. Eiger expects an FDA approval decision for Zokinvy in treating progeria and progeroid laminopathies, rare genetic disorders that cause accelerated aging, by Nov. 20, 2020.