Omeros Corporation (NASDAQ:OMER) announced positive results from a Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating the effects of a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma agonist in patients with cocaine use disorder (CUD). The trial, designed and conducted by Joy M. Schmitz, Ph.D. and her colleagues at the Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction, University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston, demonstrates that the PPAR-gamma agonist reduces craving and improves the integrity of brain white matter in patients with CUD. There currently are no approved medications to treat cocaine addiction. Omeros’ issued and pending patents in its OMS405 program cover the use of any PPAR-gamma agonist, alone or in combination with other addiction therapies, to treat all forms of addiction, including cocaine, nicotine, opioids, alcohol and other substances of abuse as well as addictive or compulsive behaviors.

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 clinical trial, 30 treatment-seeking CUD patients were randomized to receive either a PPAR-gamma agonist (n=15) or placebo (n=15) daily for 12 weeks. Measures of impulsivity, decision-making and cocaine craving were recorded at multiple time points. A subgroup of 19 patients (10 placebo patients and 9 PPAR-gamma-treated patients) underwent brain scans using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to measure white matter integrity before and after the course of treatment.

The data reveal a statistically significant time-dependent reduction in cocaine craving in PPAR-gamma-agonist-treated patients compared to placebo controls. Treated patients also showed improvement in white matter integrity in four target DTI regions of interest, specifically in the corpus callosum and in two associated thalamic tracts. During treatment, side effects reported were minimal and similar between the PPAR-gamma agonist and placebo groups. These clinical findings are consistent with results of earlier mechanistic and target-based preclinical studies showing that PPAR-gamma agonists protect against neuronal damage and block reinstatement of cocaine, heroin and alcohol seeking in animal models of drug abuse.

The trial was funded in part by grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. The results of the trial were recently presented at the 2016 College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) meeting held in Palm Springs, CA. A manuscript detailing the findings has been submitted for publication to a peer-reviewed journal.

“In drug abusers, cognitive decline associated with loss of neuronal function is a major negative prognostic factor,” stated Joy M. Schmitz, Ph.D., Louis A. Faillace Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction at University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston. “To our knowledge, this is the first pharmacological agent that shows the combined potential of neuroprotection together with anti-craving and relapse-preventing abilities. Omeros’ OMS405 program represents an innovative approach to treating drug abuse, with the combination of effects offering a unique advantage over other strategies under investigation.”

“These clinical data are exciting and underscore the unique mechanism of action of PPAR-gamma agonists in the treatment of cocaine abuse and potentially other forms of addiction,” statedGregory A. Demopulos M.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Omeros. “Currently there is no treatment for cocaine addiction. PPAR-gamma agonists such as OMS405 could well prove to be unique and effective therapeutics for the epidemic of cocaine abuse affecting over 15 million people worldwide. Together with OMS527, our PDE7 inhibitor program, Omeros is establishing a substantial position in the addiction space.” (Original Source)

Shares of Omeros are up nearly 4% to $7.80 in pre-market trading. OMER has a 1-year high of $16.80 and a 1-year low of $7.20. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $10.41 and its 200-day moving average is $11.57.

On the ratings front, Omeros has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report released yesterday, Wedbush analyst Liana Moussatos reiterated a Buy rating on OMER, with a price target of $56, which represents a potential upside of 646.7% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on October 17, Cantor Fitzgerald’s Elemer Piros reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $21.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Liana Moussatos and Elemer Piros have a total average return of 12.1% and 10.4% respectively. Moussatos has a success rate of 41% and is ranked #224 out of 4180 analysts, while Piros has a success rate of 49% and is ranked #541.

Overall, 5 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $44.67 which is 495.6% above where the stock closed yesterday.

Omeros Corp. engages in the development and commercialization of small-molecule and protein therapeutics for large-market as well as orphan indications targeting inflammation, coagulopathies, and disorders of the central nervous system. Its products are derived from its proprietary PharmacoSurgery platform designed to improve clinical outcomes of patients undergoing arthroscopic, ophthalmological, urological, and other surgical and medical procedures.