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Drug Discovery Company Lands $25M in Private, State Funding

7 transmembrane receptor (NIH)

7 transmembrane receptor, a type of GPCR (NIH)

Omeros Corporation, a Seattle, Washington biopharmaceutical company focused on inflammation and disorders of the central nervous system, says it has received $20 million from Vulcan Capital and a grant award for $5 million from Washington State’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) to finance the company’s G protein-coupled receptor program.

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are a large and diverse family of proteins whose primary function is to transfer extracellular stimuli into intracellular signals. GPCRs are involved in many biological processes, with 30 to 40 percent of current drugs binding to these targets. 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 or by drugs in development.

About 120 GPCRs have no known ligands, which are termed “orphan” GPCRs. Omeros’ GPCR technology could result in new therapeutics to treat conditions as diverse as cancer, obesity, and neurological disorders.

In return, Omeros will pay to Vulcan and LSDF a tiered percentage of net proceeds received by Omeros from its GPCR program. The percentage decreases as the cumulative net proceeds reach specified thresholds in the agreements.

LSDF is a Washington state agency that makes grant investments in innovative life sciences research. The group says proceeds from its relationship with Omeros will fund a new life sciences initiative complementary to LSDF to enhance the competitiveness of Washington’s life sciences sector, with the goals of improving health and health care across the state and beyond, and providing statewide economic returns.

Vulcan Capital is the private investment arm of Vulcan Inc., the company founded by Paul G. Allen — one of the founders of Microsoft Corporation — to manage his business and philanthropic initiatives.

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