(Reuters) – Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Wednesday its drug to treat non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) met the main goal of reducing levels of elevated liver enzymes in a mid-stage study.

NASH is a chronic liver disease characterized by excess fat, inflammation and cell damage in liver that can cause fibrosis or scarring of the organ, ultimately leading to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Successful treatments for NASH have remained elusive, but the market remains lucrative with some analysts having projected it could reach between $20 billion and $35 billion, as people with fatty diets increasingly develop the disease.

The company said its experimental drug significantly reduced the levels of alanine aminotransferase versus a placebo.

The drug was generally safe and a majority of the treatment-related side effects were mild to moderate, Enanta added.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)