My company, EpimedX, was fortunate to be awarded the OKBio-sponsored BIO scholarship, allowing me to attend the convention for the first time. EpimedX Co-Founder and COO, Dr. Robert Floyd, has attended the convention for several years and understands the great opportunity that this large international meeting holds. Together, we prepared in advance to meet with as many potential partners as possible during our time in San Diego.
The primary vision of EpimedX is to produce a novel therapeutic for Sickle Cell Disease. In the United States, approximately 100,000 patients suffer with this disease. Millions suffer worldwide and billions of dollars are lost from the economy as a result of lost productivity and healthcare costs. EpimedX is developing a small molecule, EdX-17, that enhances specific genes and signaling pathways in order to shift the hemoglobin profile in red blood cells – and thereby prevent sickling. This treatment has the potential to prevent and reverse symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease.
Commercialization of EdX-17 has the potential to provide significantly better treatment, alleviation of symptoms, improved quality of life/longevity, and greatly reduced treatment costs. Drug development costs are high, however, and EpimedX must seek partnership with industry giants to achieve this goal.
Dr. Floyd and I were fortunate to have 4 global pharmaceutical companies show interest in our technology. We met with representatives from Merck Serono, Amgen, Roche and Sanofi/Genzyme. The overwhelming response was positive – yet all of the representatives suggested that we are currently too early on the commercialization path to partner. We expected this response, but we consider this year at the BIO convention as a step in the right direction – we believe that an early introduction to the technology will potentially lead to negotiations in the future as we demonstrate success and achieve milestones.
In addition to partnering meetings I was able to attend seminars and panel discussions on orphan drug development and financing, patient focused drug development, pediatric clinical trials, and tips for working with the FDA. These talks were relevant to our drug development plan and therefore extremely beneficial.
Lastly, working at the OKBio booth allowed for making connections with new potential partners and collaborators from other states and countries, as well as solidify relationships with others working on projects in our state.
Overall, the trip was extremely beneficial and I hope to have the opportunity to go again next year.
Carol D. Curtis, PhD
Associate Director of R&D