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Research could lead to new drug therapies for addictions

March 21, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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Omeros Corporation recently announced that it has elucidated the mechanism of action of its phosphodiesterase 7 (PDE7) inhibitors in the neural network shown to be responsible for addiction in humans. Omeros believes that it is the first to discover the link between PDE7 and any addiction or compulsive disorder, and the company is establishing a broad intellectual property position around this discovery. Omeros expects to submit an Investigational New Drug application or the European equivalent for its lead PDE7 inhibitor (OMS527) to permit the initiation of human clinical trials later this year.

Most, if not all, addictions and compulsions are directly tied to increased release of dopamine in the brain. Through an extensive battery of behavioral, electrophysiological and neurotransmitter studies in animals, Omeros identified the mechanism by which its proprietary PDE7 inhibitors reduce the heightened dopamine release caused by drugs of abuse. These studies generated consistent data demonstrating that Omeros' PDE7 inhibitors are effective in nicotine, cocaine, opioid and alcohol addiction as well as in binge eating and uncovered the activities of these compounds at specific sites within the neural network that controls addiction. These same neural pathways have been shown to be responsible for addictions and compulsive behaviors in humans.

"The mechanism by which our PDE7 inhibitors work in addiction cuts across multiple drugs of abuse," stated Gregory A. Demopulos, M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Omeros. "With almost 1.5 billion nicotine addicts, 140 million alcoholics, 15 million cocaine addicts and 6 million opioid addicts worldwide, the addiction problem - and the pharmaceutical industry's interest in treating that problem - is growing. We look forward to evaluating OMS527 in humans, and we are advancing through toxicology studies in preparation for clinical trials later this year."

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