What happened

Shares of Cassava Sciences (NASDAQ:SAVA) soared 141% on Tuesday after the biotechnology company released promising data from a study evaluating simufilam, its drug candidate for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. 

So what

An interim analysis of Cassava's clinical study showed an improvement in patients' cognition function following six months of simufilam treatment. Study participants' cognition scores improved by 10% on average from baseline. Better still, these patients' dementia-related symptoms, such as anxiety and agitation, improved by an average of 29% from baseline.

Importantly, no serious safety issues were reported during the study.

An upwardly sloping stock chart

Shares of Cassava Sciences surged on Tuesday. Image source: Getty Images.

The results were particularly impressive, as Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that causes the cognitive abilities of those who suffer from it to decline over time.

"We would have been satisfied to show simufilam stabilizes cognition in patients over 6 months," CEO Remi Barbier said in a press release. "An improvement in cognition and behavior tells us this drug candidate has potential to provide lasting treatment effects for people living with Alzheimer's disease."

Now what

Cassava Sciences intends to begin a phase 3 clinical trial of simufilam in the second half of 2021. Should the treatment continue to show the ability to safely improve cognition function in people with Alzheimer's, its market potential would likely be enormous. Nearly 6 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from the memory-destroying disease, and there are currently no drugs on the market that can halt its progression.

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