What happened

Shares of Verona Pharma (VRNA 5.63%) are skyrocketing today, up by 58.7% as of 11:29 a.m. ET. The huge gain came after the company announced results from a late-stage study evaluating nebulized ensifentrine as a maintenance treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Verona reported that ensifentrine met the primary endpoint of the study with a 94 mL change in average forced expiratory volume in 1 second, a measure of how much air a person can exhale. The experimental drug also met all secondary endpoints of the study. Verona stated that patients receiving ensifentrine had a 42% reduction in the rate of moderate-to-severe COPD exacerbations over a 24-week period as well.

So what

In addition to its clinical update, Verona also announced its second-quarter results Tuesday morning. However, the positive results for ensifentrine were definitely the bigger catalyst for the small biotech stock.

Verona doesn't have any products on the market yet. Ensifentrine is the only candidate in the company's pipeline. Although Verona is evaluating the drug as a potential treatment for asthma and cystic fibrosis, it's further along in the COPD indication.

Today's news significantly improves Verona's chances of ultimately winning approval for ensifentrine. The overwhelmingly positive results also bode well for the drug's commercial prospects if it's approved.

Now what

Verona's next step is to complete another late-stage study of ensifentrine in treating COPD. The study is expected to wrap up later this year. If it also achieves positive results, the company plans to file for U.S. approval in the first half of 2023.