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An exact science: Jackson T. Stephens Jr. and ExOxEmis on verge of marketing antiseptic drug for AIDS worldwide.

ExOxEmis Inc.

You might as well learn how to pronounce it. It's going to be the talk of the medical world very soon.

ExOxEmis (Ex-Ox-amiss) is a privately held biological company holding the key that could unlock the door to AIDS prevention.

The company, whose corporate office is in Little Rock, announced last week it would begin offering international distribution rights to two enzymes it markets under the trade name Exact.

Exact -- the combination of myeloperoxidase and eosinphil peroxidase -- has been documented to kill on contact the virus causing acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Besides being a preventive measure against AIDS, Exact is being promoted for its potential use in such applications as ophthalmic solutions, infant formulas, urinary tract lavages, burn ointments, feminine douches and suppositories.

"That's what we're excited about," says Jackson T. Stephens Jr., the chairman of ExOxEmis and founder of Stephens Enterprises Inc. "It has potentially widespread application. We think we have our hands around the most perfect antiseptic ever seen."

ExOxEmis, which has a laboratory and manufacturing facility in San Antonio, Texas, has approached health officials in several foreign countries including Zaire, Tanzania, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, France, Great Britain, Japan and Australia in regard to the distribution of the antiseptic.

While the two enzymes are currently being tested by the National Institutes of Health in Rockville, Md., for possible applications in three areas -- human immunodeficiency virus, sexually transmitted diseases and respiratory ailments -- ExOxEmis is pursuing domestic and international patents for the product.

Stephens expects approval on the patents within three months to a year.

The advantage Stephens and ExOxEmis have over possible competitors is the ability to produce the enzymes, very scarce until now, in mass quantities and at an affordable price.

The antiseptic properties of the enzymes have been documented for some time, but the extreme cost of manufacturing them on even a small scale has prevented any commercial or medical applications until now.

As a result of extensive research and development by ExOxEmis, founded by Stephens in 1987, a proprietary manufacturing process now exists that allows for the wholesale distribution of Exact.

Stephens' connection to the biological medicine field dates back seven years, when he was approached by Forrest Seale about financing the advancement of certain technologies Seale was scouting.

Seale, a San Antonio accounting executive with a background in marketing and manufacturing, and Stephens eventually formed MCLAS, a company designed to explore the technologies, which included an electronically activated penile implant and a bowling advertising and scoring system.

One of the technologies, a luminescent labeling system developed by the U.S. Air Force for diagnostic testing, was determined to be the most applicable. Although MCLAS was eventually dissolved, Seale and Stephens remained in a partnership and retained the rights to the luminescent labeling system.

ExOxEmis, short for excited oxygen emissions, was formed in October 1987 by Stephens and Seale, who brought aboard Robert C. Allen, then chief pathologist at an Army burn unit in San Antonio. It was Allen's research and documentation of the photon output of white blood cells during oxygenation that led to the production of Exact.

"Had we not gotten Dr. Allen, I probably would not have gone forward" with the manufacturing, says Stephens.

Pathogen Killer

Before Exact came on the scene, common household bleach was the only antiseptic known to kill the AIDS virus on contact. Other antiseptics, used in large enough concentrations, proved to damage both surrounding tissue and the immune system, making them useless.

Exact, using a chemical called singlet molecular oxygen that occurs during a high-energy chemical reaction, produces a "killing" property that is restricted by its short lifetime. Because of this, Exact's region of singlet molecular oxygen killing is restricted and thus damages only the pathogens to which it binds.

"It binds and kills specific pathogens while leaving normal tissue alone," explains Stephens, 40, the son of Little Rock financier Jackson T. Stephens.

"They're like smart bombs," he adds, "they go and kill pathogens preferentially," with various bacterium, viruses and yeast the targets of the "bombs."

Its ability to kill the AIDS virus will be a priority in discerning the various applications of Exact, Stephens says. The product could be developed as a douche or as an additive to creams, jellies or lubricants, and could also be used to coat donor blood bags as a means of preventing the spread of HIV and other blood-transmitted diseases.

"We plan to sell the enzymes to companies with existing product lines," says Stephens, referring to companies such as contact lens solution producers.

"We can use the enzymes in the solution to clean lenses," he says. "In the infant formula business, Exact may have a place as an additive to formula to help infants combat bacteria. And something we may do ourselves is manufacture the enzymes in suppository form or lozenge form, as a preventative to sexually transmitted diseases."

All of these markets could prove highly profitable for ExOxEmis and Stephens, who estimates having spent "well into eight figures" on the research and manufacturing of Exact and the company's other products.

With roughly $4 billion spent worldwide on ophthalmic products, more than $1 billion spent on infant formula in the U.S. and another $1 billion spent on condoms alone in this country, Exact could prove to be a boon to both the medical and business communities.

Exact is one of three product lines manufactured by ExOxEmis. Axis, already patented in the U.S., is a diagnostic testing system used to measure the systemic state of inflammation in the human body. Focus is a universal detection system for clinical chemistries, immunoassays and genetic probes.

But Exact is the company's present claim to fame. While ExOxEmis doesn't exactly roll off the tip of the tongue, Exact could very well become a household name. As part of the company's licensing arrangement, it will require each product using the enzymes to denote such with the Exact logo, just as Nutrasweet is in hundreds of products across the country.

"What we want to be is an enzyme supplier to companies in these markets," says Stephens. "It would be hard to sell this product if it wasn't 100 percent better than what they're using. And we believe it is."
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:ExOxEmis Inc.; acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Aug 31, 1992
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