Omeros' COVID-19 treatment shows promise, shares jump

A patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Centre Cardiologique du Nord private hospital in Saint-Denis near Paris as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in France, April 22, 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 US 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.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, causes fluid to collect in the lungs, depriving organs of oxygen. COVID-19 patients with ARDS often require intensive care.

The small study was done in Italy's Bergamo, the initial epicentre 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 that recognises and locks onto a virus, preventing the infection from spreading. The company said it targets damage to endothelial cells, a general marker of both the disease and recovery.

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 US FDA's breakthrough tag for these indications, but the agency has not yet approved the drug for any use.

The US 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 US government. It did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for additional comments.

The company's shares rose as much as 80% to a two-year high of $25.46, before trading at $22.18.