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Omeros Awarded NIMH Grant For Development Of Orphan GPCR Antibodies

SEATTLE, Sept. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Omeros Corporation (NASDAQ: OMER) today announced that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) awarded a grant to the Company for its proprietary antibody discovery (DTLacO) platform. With this approximately $700,000 NIMH award, Omeros will use its DTLacO platform to develop antibodies targeting orphan G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that are associated with neurological disorders. 

Omeros' proprietary DTLacO technology is an efficient ex vivo antibody discovery platform that pairs an engineered chicken B-cell line with innovative antibody selection strategies.  The DTLacO library comprises a highly diverse antibody repertoire from which antibodies specific for therapeutic or diagnostic targets are selected.  The power of the library is magnified by the capacity of the DTLacO cells to mediate accelerated molecular diversification of the antibody genes, a feature that enables rapid maturation of selected antibodies to improve affinity, specificity and function. The DTLacO platform has already yielded high-affinity, humanized antibodies with therapeutic potential. 

"We are pleased that the NIMH has again awarded a grant to support our orphan GPCR research," said Gregory A. Demopulos, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Omeros. "Omeros' DTLacO platform can generate antibodies that target a wide range of diseases, including multiple types of cancer. With respect to our orphan GPCR program, the DTLacO platform nicely complements our proprietary cellular redistribution assay that, to date, has identified small molecules that functionally interact with 42 orphan GPCRs.  For those few receptors that are recalcitrant to our high-throughput CRA approach, our DTLacO platform provides another avenue to discover and develop new drugs to benefit patients."

About the DTLacO PlatformOmeros' proprietary DTLacO technology is an efficient ex vivo antibody discovery platform that pairs an engineered chicken B-cell line with innovative antibody selection strategies.  The DTLacO library comprises a highly diverse antibody repertoire from which antibodies specific for therapeutic or diagnostic targets are selected.  The power of the library is magnified by the capacity of the DTLacO cells to mediate accelerated molecular diversification of the antibody genes.  This diversification results from the intrinsic ability of the DTLacO cells to reconfigure the elements of the antibody that control binding, a feature that enables rapid maturation of selected antibodies to improve affinity, specificity and function. The platform can generate antibodies with inherently long CDR-H3 regions, making the antibodies well-suited for targeting difficult-to-bind epitopes, such as GPCRs. The DTLacO platform has already yielded high-affinity, humanized antibodies with therapeutic potential. 

About G Protein-Coupled ReceptorsGPCRs, which mediate key physiological processes in the body, are one of the most valuable families of drug targets. According to Insight Pharma Reports, GPCR-targeting drugs represent 30 to 40 percent of marketed pharmaceuticals. Examples include Claritin® (allergy), Zantac® (ulcers and reflux), OxyContin® (pain), Lopressor® (high blood pressure), Imitrex® (migraine headache), Reglan® (nausea) and Abilify® (schizophrenia, bipolar disease and depression) as well as all other antihistamines, opioids, alpha and beta blockers, serotonergics and dopaminergics. 

The industry focuses its GPCR drug discovery efforts mostly on non-sensory GPCRs. Of the 363 total non-sensory GPCRs, approximately 240 have known ligands (molecules that bind the receptors) with nearly half of those targeted either by marketed drugs (46 GPCRs) or by drugs in development (about 70 GPCRs). There are approximately 120 GPCRs with no known ligands, which are termed "orphan GPCRs." Without a known ligand, drug development for a given receptor is extremely difficult.

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