Faron Pharma right in middle of fight against cancer and Coronavirus

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What it does

Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (LON:FARN)(NASDAQFIRSTNORTH:FARON) is a Finnish drug discovery firm focusing on two programmes: Clevegen and Traumakine.

Clevegen

Immunotherapy treatment Clevegen is in a phase I/II trial (MATINS) for metastatic cutaneous melanoma as well as hepatobiliary/hepatocellular, pancreatic, ovarian and colorectal cancers.

Tumour cells are adept at creating a shield around themselves to evade detection by the immune system, therefore staving off destruction.

Clevegen has been designed to recognise cancer and break the tumour’s protective shell.

The treatment is an anti-Clever-1 antibody which causes changes in the immune environment of solid tumours by switching Clever-1 positive immune suppressive macrophages to immune active macrophages.

Ultimately, if it is successful, this new breed of treatment will be used in combination with PD-1 inhibitors to tackle the killer disease.

Faron was also given the green light to broaden the scope of its phase I/II cancer trial after a review of the interim data.

The MATINS study of the immunotherapy Clevegen will now take in seven further strains of the disease besides the two already assessed – colorectal and ovarian.

The generic name is bexmarilimab.

 

Traumakine

In January, Faron said the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the phase II/III trial to combat the acute symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Traumakine, an intravenous interferon beta-1a drug, will be given to people who have been hospitalised but who do not yet need ventilation. It will be administered before corticosteroids are given.

The aim is to prevent systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – and by extension improve sufferers’ condition and reduce the death rate among patients.

“IFN beta-1a has previously demonstrated a compelling scientific rationale as the body’s first line of defence against viral infections and might be advantageous over current standard of care when given intravenously to patients suffering from COVID-19 induced ARDS,” said Faron chief executive Dr Markku Jalkanen in a statement.

 

How it’s doing

The company rapidly expanded its clinical development programme for Clevegen in 2020 and its focus for 2021 will continue to be on the progress of the candidate’s clinical development through Part II and Part III of the MATINS trial and new combination studies, to further develop its understanding of the potential future clinical use and commercial potential.

Meanwhile, the company is on track to initiate a Faron-sponsored trial investigating the potential of its intravenous (IV) interferon beta-1a therapy Traumakine to treat the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The company ended 2012 with a cash balance of €4.1mln, down from €7.1mln a year earlier, since when the company has raised €15mln through a placing of shares in February 2021.

As might be expected of a pre-revenue company, Faron made a loss in 2020; the loss before tax widened slightly to €16.95mln from €13.26mln in 2019, as research & development expenses rose to €13.88mln from 10.24mln.

Net cash outflow was €2.8mln in 2020 compared to an inflow of €3.0mln in 2019. Cash used for operating activities increased by €6.0mln to €17.5mln in 2020. This increase was mostly driven by an increase in research & development investments. Net cash inflow from financing activities was €14.8mln (2019: €14.6mln) mainly due to the successful equity placing completed in April 2020.

What the boss says: Markku Jalkanen, chief executive

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