Omeros' COVID-19 Treatment Shows Promise in Small Study

By Vishwadha Chander

August 11, 2020

(Reuters) - Omeros Corp said on Monday its experimental treatment helped six patients, with acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by COVID-19, recover and get discharged from the hospital, sending the drug developer's shares up 60%.

The company said it was in talks with the U.S. government for potential funding to speed up large-scale manufacturing for broader availability of the treatment, narsoplimab.

All six patients had underlying conditions and needed mechanical ventilation before treatment, Omeros said.

The small study was done in Italy's Bergamo, the initial epicenter of COVID-19 in Europe, under a compassionate use program following requests from doctors at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital.

Narsoplimab is a human monoclonal antibody targeting mannan-binding lectin-associated serine protease-2 (MASP-2), the effector enzyme of the lectin pathway of the complement system. It is "designed to prevent complement-mediated inflammation and endothelial damage while leaving intact the respective functions of the other pathways of innate immunity," according to the company.

The therapy has already been studied in a pivotal trial for a stem cell transplant-related complication and in late-stage studies for two kidney conditions. Narsoplimab was also granted U.S. FDA's breakthrough tag for these indications, but the agency has not yet approved the drug for any use.

The U.S. government, under its "Operation Warp Speed" initiative aimed at accelerating access to vaccines and treatments to fight COVID-19, has so far agreed to invest more than $7 billion in vaccines and has funded more than 30 projects, including those for diagnostics and treatments.

Omeros did not provide further details of its talks with the U.S. government. It did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for additional comments.