Compugen Ltd announced the discovery and experimental validation of a new drug target for the treatment of a type of cancer, sending its shares up as much as 41 percent in pre-market trade.

The compound, CGEN-671, for the treatment of multiple epithelial tumors, is a membrane splice variant of CD55, a known drug target for gastric cancer, for which monoclonal antibody therapeutics are in clinical development by others, the Israeli biotech company said in a statement.

Epithelial tumors, also referred to as carcinomas, account for about 85 percent of all cancers, the company said.

Epithelial cells are the cover and lining of every surface or cavity of the body, and also the body organs, and can develop into different types of epithelial cancers.

Compugen has filed patent applications covering the splice variant, CGEN-671, and its various therapeutic and diagnostic utilities, it said.

Shares of the company rose $1.67 to $5.75 in pre-market trade. They closed at $4.08 Thursday on Nasdaq.

The shares, which traded as low as 39 cents in March, nearly doubled last Wednesday to touch a nearly five-year high of $5.58 after the company said it entered into a collaboration deal with Pfizer Inc
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(Reporting by Shailesh Kuber in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)