Local biotech startup EpimedX believes a drug known as Edx-17 could help treat annually more than 90,000 patients with sickle cell disease in the United States.
“Sickle cell disease is a major, worldwide problem,” Robert Floyd, EpimedX co-founder, said Wednesday at an Oklahoma Venture Forum luncheon at the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park. “Many people with the disease die in childhood.”
The genetic blood disorder causes blood cells to take on a deformed sickle shape.
EpimedX has formed an alliance with the pharmaceuticals company VBS, which manufactures Edx-17. The compound is now primarily used in agriculture as a weatherization treatment to protect crops and has been declared safe to humans by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Robert Broyles, chief scientific officer for EpimedX.
“This declaration from the FDA is very fortunate to us, because it saves us huge expense and a great deal of time,” Broyles said.
Broyles has been researching sickle cell disease for the past 40 years with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
EpimedX already holds two patents related to the usage of Edx-17 in sickle cell disease and has a third patent pending. Broyles and Floyd believe Edx-17 also could eventually be used to treat other diseases, including malaria.
The company recently completed its first round of angel investor funding with the help of the technology development nonprofit i2E.
EpimedX is in the process of identifying funding for clinical trials.