Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN) (FIRSTNORTH:FARON) shares gained on Wednesday after the biotech firm said it was “very encouraged” to discover a drug it is developing to tackle solid tumours can ‘down’ regulate a range of checkpoints that affect the immune system.

The data has emerged from the company’s phase I/II MATINS trial of Clevegen, a precision immunotherapy targeting Clever-1 positive tumour associated macrophages (TAMs), which are a class of immune cells present in high numbers in solid tumours.

The first available cell surface biomarker read-out from seven patients showed that the anti-Clever-1 treatment suppressed a broad range of the aforementioned checkpoints that regulate the immune system.

There were also markers that suggested the drug may help stimulate and activate t-cells crucial in fighting diseases such as cancer.

The early results indicate that Clevegen treatment could potentially increase the efficacy of other immuno-oncology (IO) drugs.

According to chief executive Dr Markku Jalkanen, the Faron treatment could finally offer “a biological rationale to guide combination therapies”.

“We intend to carry out further analysis of other MATINS patients and aim to understand which combination of IO [immune-oncology] therapies would build the optimal host immune activation for various cancer types or individuals,” Jalkanen said in a statement.

The data will be presented at the ESMO Immuno-Oncology Congress 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

In afternoon trading, Faron Pharma shares were 1.4% higher at 284p.

In a note to clients, analysts at Panmure Gordon, who currently have their rating and target price for Faron ‘under review’, said: “We are not reintroducing a target price at this stage whilst we review out forecasts following the fundraising. However, we note that, properly funded, both of Faron’s products, and Clevegen in particular, could have significant value.”

 — Adds share price, analyst comment —