Omeros Corp. set out to raise $20 million in its Series E financing round, but ended up bringing in more than $63 million by the time it was all over.
The Seattle-based company, founded in 1995, had raised only $17 million in four previous rounds. That was enough, however, to move a lead product into Phase III trials and establish a number of preclinical programs, two of which are getting close to moving into clinical development.
Omeros Chairman and CEO Gregory Demopulos told BioWorld Today the deal not only was bigger than originally intended, but also "we did it on terms, conditions and price set by the company. The terms were straightforward, and it was an up' round for us.
"What makes Omeros different," he said, "is the reward/risk profile. Our lead technologies are relatively low-tech biotech, because we're taking already-approved agents and combining them into new drug products covered by intellectual property around both composition and use."
The lead programs are anti-inflammatory agents from the company's perioperative program, which involves combining active ingredients from generic agents into proprietary formulations designed to be delivered to a surgical site, at the time of surgery. The idea is to preempt pathway activation, thus reducing inflammation, pain and other problems stemming from the trauma of surgical and other medical procedures. The agents are predosed and preformulated, and added to standard surgical irrigation. Existing practice is to administer anti-inflammatories postsurgery.
The lead product is OMS103HP, which in April 2005 was moved into pivotal Phase III trials in patients undergoing arthroscopic anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. The primary endpoint versus placebo is improvement in knee function, while secondary endpoints include joint motion and pain management. Enrollment in that study is expected to be completed in late 2007 or early 2008, Demopulos said.
Omeros later this year or early in 2008 plans to file investigational new drug applications to begin clinical trials of two other products from the perioperative program. Those will evaluate OMS201 and OMS302, targeting urological and ophthalmologic indications, respectively. Additional INDs would follow later in 2008 or early 2009, Demopulos said.
The company has 10 other technology platforms. They include a chondroprotective program targeting inflammation-induced cartilage loss; a program targeting proteins in complement activation; an intrathecal analgesia program; and a drug delivery platform based on hydrogel technology. It also has a number of central nervous system-focused programs that were added to its pipeline when it acquired Nura Inc., of Seattle, in September.
One of those former Nura programs, in schizophrenia, was the subject of up to $9 million in equity and grant funding in January from the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Md., funds designed to get the program through Phase I trials. Only a small portion of that funding was included in the Series E total.
Demopulos said the Omeros now has two to three years of cash, enough to carry it through Phase III development of OMS103HP.
The plan for the Series E financing initially was to raise $20 million, but it appeared to close at $23 million. The company re-opened the round due to investor interest, and ended up bringing in $40 million more in a second tranche, Demopulos said.
"Our products, relative to other biotech products, have less risk, because the pharmacological properties and safety profiles of the included agents are well characterized," he said. "The potential returns, however, are those of traditional pharmaceutical products. They also address large markets.
"So the lead programs," he continued, "are expected to drive revenue, which will allow us then to develop the extensive pipeline we've built behind it and give us multiple product opportunities across multiple technology platforms," a diversification plan that further reduces risk.
Omeros has funded development to date without partnerships, but now is in discussions with potential partners around a number of programs, including OMS103HP, Demopulos said. He said the company is considering additional financing options, both public and private, and "is always looking at additional opportunities for in- and out-licensing."
New investors in the Series E financing included Aravis Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, subsidiaries of American Financial Group, Grosvenor Funds, Novartis Venture Fund, Southern Cross Capital, Stanley Medical Research Institute, Trevi Health Ventures and WRF Capital. Existing investors also participated.