Overview & History
Epizyme is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and plans to commercialize innovative personalized therapeutics for patients with genetically defined cancers. We systematically identify the genetic alterations that create cancer causing genes, called oncogenes, select patients in whom the identified genetic alteration is found and then design small molecule therapeutics to inhibit the oncogene. The clinical development plan for each of our product candidates is directed towards patients with a particular genetically defined cancer. Our approach is part of a broader trend towards personalized therapeutics based on first identifying the underlying cause of a disease affecting specific patient populations, applying rational drug design tools to create a therapeutic to bind with a molecular target in the identified disease pathway and using a companion diagnostic to select the right patients for treatment.
We have built a proprietary product platform that we use to create small molecule inhibitors of a 96-member class of enzymes known as histone methyltransferases, or HMTs. Genetic alterations can result in changes to the activity of HMTs, making them oncogenic. When Epizyme was founded, we recognized that the HMT class of enzymes might contain many potential oncogenes and, therefore, presented the opportunity to discover, develop and commercialize multiple personalized therapeutics.
We have prioritized 20 HMTs as attractive targets for personalized therapeutics based on their oncogenic potential. Our two most advanced therapeutic product programs target the HMTs DOT1L (for the treatment of mixed lineage leukemia, or MLL-r) and EZH2 (for a genetically defined subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma). We believe that our ongoing Phase 1 study for EPZ-5676, targeting DOT1L, is the first clinical trial of an HMT inhibitor. We expect to initiate a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of EPZ-6438 targeting EZH2 in 2Q 2013.
We were founded in 2007 and are led by a management team with extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry. We have entered into therapeutic collaborations with Celgene, Eisai and Glaxo Group Limited (an affiliate of GlaxoSmithKline), or GSK, that have provided us with approximately $120 million in non-equity funding through March 31, 2013. As of March 31, 2012, we had $85 million in cash and cash equivalents.