OMass Unveils Rich Drug Discovery Pipeline Targeting Intractable or Inadequately Drugged Membrane and Complex-bound Proteins
4 November 2021 – OMass Therapeutics (‘OMass’ or ‘the Company’), a biotechnology company identifying medicines against highly validated target ecosystems, today unveiled its pipeline of five novel, differentiated small molecule drug programs, targeting intractable or inadequately drugged membrane and complex-bound protein targets such as GPCRs (G-protein-coupled receptors), solute carriers and intracellular protein complexes.
The Company’s selected programs focus on validated targets in immunology & rare disease indications with high unmet need. The programs include:
- MC2 (melanocortin-2) is a GPCR that binds to ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). OMass is aiming to develop an insurmountable antagonist with a best-in-class profile for rare endocrine disorders, including, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia and Cushing’s Disease;
- Gasdermin D is a pore forming protein that leads to pyroptosis and the release of multiple cytokines. OMass will have the first and only Gasdermin D inhibitor to target a broad range of immunological conditions – a pipeline in a product;
- GPR65 (G Protein-Coupled Receptor 65) is the dominant proton sensing receptor on immune cells. OMass has the first and only agonist targeting Inflammatory Bowel Disease;
- KCC2/SLC12A5 (Potassium chloride transporter, solute carrier family 12 member 5) is the major extruder of intracellular chloride in mature neurons and has been broadly implicated in multiple indications related to seizures;
- SLC15A4 (Solute carrier family 15 member 4) is a highly validated solute carrier in immunological disorders being developed for Lupus and other IFN (interferon)-opathies.
OMass’ patent-protected platform is based on ground-breaking research by Professor Dame Carol Robinson at Oxford University, who redefined mass spectrometry to enable the analysis of interactions between intact, folded proteins. Over the past three years, this technology has been industrialised to become OMass’ discovery platform. This platform is comprised of novel biochemistry techniques, next generation native mass spectrometry and custom chemistry, which can be used to interrogate a wide spectrum of targets and how they interact in their native ecosystems, separate from the confounding complexity of the cell. A critical process of target selection has prioritised the most promising targets to be progressed into development.
OMass has assembled a world-class management and scientific team including leading expertise in native mass spectrometry and membrane proteins, in addition to complementary expertise in computational chemistry, structural biology, and bioinformatics. The Company is led by Ros Deegan MBA, who joined as Chief Executive Officer in 2019 to aid the company’s transition to become a fully-fledged pharma R&D organization. Ros brings more than 20 years’ experience in drug discovery, development, and business development in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, both in the UK and the US, at Bicycle Therapeutics, Trevena and GSK.
Rosamond Deegan, OMass CEO, commented: “We are excited to unveil our initial pipeline which is a testament to the work the team has done over the past years. Evolving from a platform to a product company was one of our primary goals since the Series A. Small molecule drug discovery has historically focused on targets that operate in relative isolation such as enzymes. However, many of the best targets operate within an ecosystem such as a membrane or an intracellular complex. To drug these targets, we need to interrogate their full scope of physical interactions within the ecosystem. This is what our platform enables us to do.”
The OMass pipeline focuses on targets with high probability of success with a focus on targets that have a genetic association with disease and can enable pathway-linked patient selection or immune signature stratification in clinical trials. OMass’ strategy is to develop its own pipeline in rare and specialty immunology indications, and to partner assets that have broader indications, as well as executing strategic discovery collaborations outside of its core area of focus.
Dr Edward Hodgkin, OMass Chairman, added: “OMass has the team in place to build a sustainable business and a platform with the potential to revolutionize discovery of innovative small molecule therapeutics against targets which have hitherto been intractable due to their complex ecosystems. To drug these targets, we need to interrogate their full spectrum of physical interactions within the native ecosystem. This is what makes OMass different – an ability to go after the best targets for patients.”
Headquartered in Oxford, UK, OMass is backed by a top-tier investor syndicate, Syncona and Oxford Science Enterprises, having closed a ~$60m Series A funding in 2020.