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Omeros prepares for two studies of OMS824

SEATTLE (AP) -- Omeros Corp. said Thursday it will start two midstage clinical trials of its drug OMS824 later this year, giving its stock a boost.

The company said it will begin testing the drug as a treatment for the neurologic disorder Huntington's disease during the third quarter and will start a trial involving schizophrenia patients later in the year.

Omeros said Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration awarded OMS824 orphan drug status as a treatment for Huntington's. Orphan drug status is given to experimental medications that treat rare diseases, and it means the drug could get an extended period of marketing exclusivity if it is approved.

Huntington's is a rare inherited disease that usually strikes people in their late 30s or early 40s. It begins with uncontrollable twitches, and later causes deterioration of mental abilities until patients can barely eat, speak or walk. Death occurs a decade or more after symptoms begin. Omeros said about 31,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.

Omeros conducted early-stage safety studies of OMS824 after the FDA cleared an application related to schizophrenia.

Shares of Omeros rose 10 cents, or 2 percent, to $5.04 in afternoon trading.