Shares of Affymax (NASDAQ:AFFY) are trading near new highs on the back of positive clinical data for its potential anemia treatment Hematide. The drugmaker, which went public last December, is touting positive data from a pair of phase 2 trials, both of which showed Hematide effective at correcting anemia using a once-monthly dose of the drug.

This is significant news because of the potential advantages Hematide holds over currently marketed products in the same niche. The compound has shown an ability to stimulate the production of red blood cells and may offer an alternative therapy to a currently available hormone that stimulates red-cell formation. Hematide's unique characteristics include its once-monthly administration, uncomplicated chemical synthesis, greater stability, and ability to be stored at room temperature.

The two Affymax studies involved patients diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and resulted in a correction of anemia in both groups -- one with early-stage non-dialysis CKD and the other with end-stage continuous-dialysis CKD.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 20 million people have CKD. Anemia is a frequent and serious complication associated with a number of increasingly common and severe diseases, including cancer, CKD, and cardiovascular disease. It can also occur in patients with other chronic diseases that cause inflammation, infection, or bleeding.

For drugmakers, correction of anemia represents an enormous $12 billion worldwide market potential, and Affymax intends to use Hematide to compete against current treatments, including Aransep, Amgen's (NASDAQ:AMGN) Epogen, and Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) Procrit.

If Affymax can successfully bring Hematide to the market, the company's current market cap of just less than $600 million is sure to expand just like the red blood cell counts of the patient population it hopes to treat.

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Fool contributor Mike Havrilla, R.Ph., B.S., Pharm.D., is a Rite Aid pharmacist who lives, writes, works, and enjoys running on the streets and trails in the small Pennsylvania town of Portage. He invites your comments and feedback. Mike does not have a position in any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.