What: Shares of Regulus Therapeutics (NASDAQ:RGLS) gained as much as 41% in early morning trading on Wednesday after the company released positive interim results for its experimental hepatitis C treatment in an ongoing mid-stage study. Per the press release, this injected drug (known as RG-101) reportedly showed the ability to reduce the average treatment duration in patients taking all-oral medications such as Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) Harvoni, Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) Olysio, or Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE:BMY) Daklinza by a noteworthy eight weeks. 

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So what: The next step in the evolution of so-called next-generation hepatitis C medications is to shorten the average treatment duration from 12 weeks to just four weeks across the varied landscape of patient populations. After today's clinical update, RG-101 appears to be a major step forward in this effort. 

Now what: Regulus is now planning on accelerating the development of RG-101 following these highly positive interim data. The burning question in shareholders' minds, though, is whether or not these results will catch the eye of a potential suitor for the company. After all, big pharma has been willing to pay top dollar for promising hepatitis C treatments in the past, and Regulus seems to have an important new drug on its hands. In short, it's not unreasonable to think that Bristol, Gilead, or J&J may consider acquiring Regulus after this latest clinical update for RG-101. Stay tuned. 

George Budwell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.