Cancer is moving up in the world lately. It’s the leading cause of death in the United Kingdom, and it will soon become the biggest killer in the United States. I had my own brush with this threat at the ripe old age of 20. Thankfully, I’m still alive, thanks to technology that became available by the 1990s. Only a few decades sooner and I’d just be a memory.
Unfortunately, millions of lives are still prematurely ended by a disease caused by cells gone haywire. Today, I’m going to tell you one important way that will change — and how you will be able to profit in both wealth and health.
It isn’t so much that cancer is deadlier than it used to be in times past, by the way. I’m living proof of that. We are constantly improving our ability to fight the disease, and we make progress every year as new diagnostic tests or therapies become available. The reason cancer is moving up the ranks is because of relative improvement compared with other life-enders — we’ve become much better at dealing with other big killers, like heart disease, than with cancer.
Growing tumors would sometimes shrink after a bad fever caused by a systemic infectious disease.
Overall, we live longer, of course. But the flip side of living longer is that cancer rates tend to rise as we age. Since we now escape cardiovascular ravages at greater rates than ever before, our cells reach ages where they become more prone to malignant mutation.
Cancer is tough because it isn’t a single disease, but a group of diseases. The more we learn about it, the more complex it appears.
In addition, cancer is highly adaptive. Like the Borg, that alien race of cybernetic aliens from Star Trek, it can quickly adjust and neutralize our most powerful weapons. Not only is cancer complex at the cellular level, but we are also learning that a tumor can contain different kinds of cancer cells, making it much like an organism in that sense. We may be able to develop a drug that can wipe out one kind of cancer cell, but others can survive and regrow a tumor — I’ll tell you more about that shortly.
Some people think we’ll never vanquish this biological Borg. I believe they’re wrong and that we eventually will. Even if we don’t find a single magic bullet to end the relentless advance of mutant cells once they’ve appeared in the body, we can develop a suite of weapons that, if used in combination, can eventually slay the invaders in cases that are incurable today.
We are now, in fact, in the early stages of a huge change in how we treat cancer. An arms race is on to upgrade our own naturally present immune cells to overcome the shifting defenses used by cancer to survive. Like nearly all new technologies, there have been false starts and reversals over the past years, but serious progress is now being made.
The basic idea behind this technology isn’t new. Over 150 years ago, physicians began to notice how patients with cancer who also developed infections could get better. The infection did not even have to be at the same site as the tumor: Growing tumors would sometimes shrink after a bad fever caused by a systemic infectious disease.
This led some early oncology pioneers to devise injectable bacterial cocktails that occasionally worked. These researchers hypothesized that the pathogens worked either by directly attacking cancer cells or by waking up a sleepy immune system.
However, this form of therapy, which we’ve come to call immunotherapy, was eventually set aside in order to concentrate resources on other methods that were more promising with the technology of that time. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy became the principal weapons in the oncologists’ arsenal. We found it was easier to create therapies using chemicals or electromagnetic waves, rather than finding ways to functionalize our body’s defenses to fend off cancer cells.
As I mentioned, that’s now changing fast — and it’s the small biotechnology innovators that are leading the charge. We are reaching a turning point in immunotherapy research. With hundreds of programs under development, it is now a heavily researched oncology field.
There are still plenty of skeptics regarding the promise of this technology, but I’m not one of them. In fact, I believe biotechnology investors who don’t participate in this new wave of cancer therapy will be missing out on historic profit opportunities.
We’ve seen these epochal shifts in cancer technology before, so this isn’t something new. What is new is the rate of change, which is accelerating. Antibody-based therapies, for example, were almost science fiction-esque in the early 1980s. By the ’90s, however, we began to see the first approvals for these antibody therapies against cancer. Now there are dozens of marketed mAbs (monoclonal antibodies), with many more on the way — and the market is vast.
The immunotherapy market will also be enormous — and it is only just starting to take off. Citigroup analysts estimate that the market will generate $35 billion per year over the next 10 years as existing therapies grow market share and new therapies enter commercialization.
The way Provenge works is radically different. As an active immunotherapy, it is a kind of cancer vaccine.
There’s a lot of gold in those hills.
Only two approved immunotherapies exist right now. One, marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, I discussed in my Breakthrough Technology Alert newsletter. This immunotherapy was originally developed by my former portfolio recommendation Medarex.
The therapeutic agent itself is an antibody called ipilimumab (marketed as Yervoy). Unlike other antibody therapies, however, Yervoy works by activating immune system cells. It used existing antibody technology to do something new. (Medarex was subsequently purchased by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2009, yielding our newsletter’s readers a 235% gain.)
The other marketed therapy is Dendreon’s sipuleucel-T (Provenge) for prostate cancer. The way Provenge works is radically different. As an active immunotherapy, it is a kind of cancer vaccine. With Provenge, a type of white blood cell called an antigen-presenting cell (APC) is taken from a patient’s blood. It is then modified to present a single prostate cancer antigen to the rest of the immune system when it is later re-injected into the patient.
While a great advance from a scientific standpoint, Provenge has faced real challenges in the marketplace. A blood draw must be processed in the lab for every dose, making it expensive from a cost-of-goods standpoint. In fact, most of Provenge’s hefty $90,000-per-course-of-therapy price tag is consumed by the cost of producing it. Furthermore, this therapy only delivers a survival benefit of about four months over not using it.
Still, Provenge has shown the path toward a new form of cancer therapy. Next-generation active immunotherapies will be able to improve on Provenge.
Sometimes, the advantage in the marketplace doesn’t go to the first mover, but to follow-on entrants who learn from the mistakes of their predecessors.
Keep your eyes on this space!
Ad lucrum per scientia (toward wealth through science),
Ed. Note: The future of cancer research is brighter than ever. And thanks to Ray, a few lucky investors are poised to take advantage of the next great breakthrough in these incredible technologies. Today’s Daily Reckoning email readers had a chance to join them. It’s just one small perk of subscribing to the FREE Daily Reckoning email edition. If you’re not currently receiving it, you can fix that right here.
Confirming the stocks-are-just-high-beta-FX meme, Japanese stocks in the Nikkei 225 have collapsed 800 points in the last 2 days as JPY began to strengthen against the USD (on better data bringing taper talk and potential capital outflows as hot money chases something else). Relative to the initial 4 months of Abenomics which saw a 'beta' of 2.3 NKY points per USDJPY pip; the last week's "beta" of 5 Nikkei points per 1 pip in USDJPY, the leverage is starting to get out of hand (with a correlation of 0.965).
From November to March, the Nikkei rallied from 8700 to 13500 and USDJPY from 79 to 100 (approx 2.3x beta)
That beta has done nothing but increase and this week's sell-off is peaking at 5x!!
French President Warns Of Immediate Military Intervention Hours After Reporting Soaring Unemployment
While we are sure it is just a coincidence that hours after his nation reports record and soaring unemployment rates, French President Hollande announces a doubling of troops in Central African Republic (CAR) deciding to "intervene immediately" after the UN authorization, adding "this intervention will be quick. It has no vocation to last and I'm sure it will be a success,"
- *FRANCE HAS DUTY TO INTERVENE, HOLLANDE SAYS
- *HOLLANDE SAYS CENTRAL AFRICA MASSACRES CONTINUING
- *HOLLANDE SAYS SITUATION CENTRAL AFRICA `ALARMING, FRIGHTENING'
The US State Department "welcomes France's decision to reinforce its military presence," adding that, the US is "appalled by today's reports of the murder of innocent women and children outside of Bangui."
Of course, it wouldn't be the modern-day war without drones, and as IB Times reports, a fleet of five unarmed drones will help U.N. troops monitor the vast Central African country of 66 million people, which has been plagued by violent militias for decades.
Hollande... (via DPA),
French President Francois Hollande said Thursday he had decide to intervene "immediately" in the Central African Republic, after the United Nations authorized an intervention by African and French forces.
France would double its current troop deployment of 600 "within a few days, if not a few hours," Hollande said in an address from the Elysee Palace.
"This intervention will be quick. It has no vocation to last and I'm sure it will be a success," he said, pledging to regularly brief the nation on its progress.
Hollande emphasized that France would be acting "together with Africans and the support of European partners" and assured that the country has "no other objective than to save human lives."
From the US State Dept.
The United States remains committed to supporting the international community's efforts to find a solution that protect civilians, restores security, ensures greater humanitarian access, and puts CAR on a path back to democratic governance.
Drone use raises questions...(Via IB Times),
"Such high-technology systems allow a better knowledge of what is happening on the ground, which allows a force to better do its job," said Hervé Ladsous, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
But there are some concerns about the U.N. drone program's transparency and regulatory framework. “Congo is in many ways a laboratory for U.N. peacekeepers with a range of equipment and a range of experiments being used,” said Phil Clark, a political professor at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, to Deutsche Welle. “But I think there are big questions here. Such as, what is it like for a non-state actor to use drones and this type of equipment, what kind of information will it be gathering, who exactly will have access to that information and what will they do with it and so I think we need a lot more clarity from the U.N. as to exactly how these drones will be used.”
As the Keynesian train rolls on, when all else fails, declare war... all that non-deflatinary ammunition production and waste...
From Jonathan Weil, originally posted in Bloomberg
The "GE Three" Go Free
It wasn't long after three former General Electric Co. executives were convicted of rigging auctions for municipal-bond investment contracts that they received the ultimate sendoff: A 7,400-word torching in Rolling Stone magazine by Matt Taibbi, the writer who branded Goldman Sachs Group Inc. with the nickname "vampire squid."
"Someday, it will go down in history as the first trial of the modern American mafia," Taibbi began his June 2012 opus about Dominick Carollo, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm. "Over 10 years in the making, the case allowed federal prosecutors to make public for the first time the astonishing inner workings of the reigning American crime syndicate, which now operates not out of Little Italy and Las Vegas, but out of Wall Street."
Then came a surprise last week, right before Thanksgiving. A federal judge ordered the men released from prison. An appeals court had reversed their convictions the day before, without explanation. An opinion would be issued "in due course," it said. Bloomberg News ran a short story this week. The rest of the news media barely noticed.
Americans tend to like their crime stories simple: Good guys catching bad guys and sending them to jail. Nuances and complexities can complicate morality tales. The country is still baying for blood after the financial crisis. Folks want the people who they think helped crash the economy locked up and fed bread and water in place of Cristal and lobster.
The case against the former GE bankers is a reminder that high-profile financial-crime cases rarely are cut and dry. Even when prosecutors win, they still might lose later, especially if the defendants can afford top-notch appellate lawyers. Until last week the GE Three were considered criminals. Now they are innocent in the eyes of the law, and we don't even know why yet. It's possible that the government will appeal further and win in the end. A resolution seems far from final.
A reversal like this helps explain why some prosecutors might hesitate to bring difficult white-collar cases to trial. The Justice Department seemed to pull back from pursuing financial-crisis cases after two former Bear Stearns Cos. hedge-fund managers were acquitted of fraud charges in 2009. (One of the jurors said after their trial that she would invest with them if she had the money.) It's easier to rack up wins by going after small fry for simpler crimes.
Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm each had been convicted on multiple counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors accused them of paying kickbacks to brokers hired by cities and towns to oversee the bidding on municipal-investment contracts, which local governments use to invest the proceeds from bond sales. Goldberg was sentenced to four years in prison. Carollo and Grimm got three years each.
Although the appeals court hasn't yet explained its decision, the defendants claimed that the statute of limitations had elapsed by the time they were indicted in 2010. They also complained that they hadn't been allowed to finish cross-examining one of the government's key witnesses after he attempted suicide during a break. The government said he couldn't return for further questioning.
Continue reading here
Treasuries are resuming their bear trend, with 10yr yields pushing above 2.839%, the Nov-21 high and BofAML's MacNeil Curry warns "Treasuries are in trouble." They continue to target a break of 3.00% in the sessions ahead. This is the September/3m range highs. However, they are most focused on 5yr yields and TYH4 (10Y March futures). Remember, Curry cautions, with the MOVE Index turning higher, Treasuries are moving into a more volatile environment. Price action in the next week or so could be explosive. Of course, while the trend (and consensus) is your friend in this view, given the Fed's dominant position, there is always the chance of a short squeeze.
US 5yr yields are completing a 2m Head and Shoulders Base on the push above 1.449%/1.473%. A daily close above 1.449%, ideally 1.473% confirms this formation, targeting 1.670%/1.659% and potentially beyond.
We prefer to express this view by selling TYH4. It is completing a 2m Head and Shoulders Top on the break of 124-20+/124-14+. Downside targets are seen to 122-06+ in the weeks ahead. We recommend scaling into shorts at 124-14+ and then 124-20+, with a stop above the Dec-03 high at 125-07. More conservative accounts should wait for a daily close below 124-14+ (or a FRIDAY close to avoid event risk).
Sell TYH4 at 124-14+, then 124-20+, risking 125-08, targeting 122-06+
An American hacker has found a way to hijack consumer drones for personal use and remotely control their flights. As AlJazeera reports, Samy Kamkar exposed security holes in the AR.Drone made by Parrot, one of the leading manufacturers of commercial drones.
I've released SkyJack, a RasPi drone that seeks out and hacks drones, turns them into zombie drones that you control. http://t.co/o3VVtKpLZp
— Samy Kamkar (@samykamkar) December 3, 2013
With tens of thousands of drones expected in US airspace in the next few years (including Amazon PrimeAir drones), Kamkar's announcement raises considerable concerns of what could be possible.
The video below shows Kamkar explaining how, using a Parrot drone, a $35 Raspberry Pi computer, a WiFi transmitter, and some technical expertise, he managed to 'skyjack' the drone.
As Al Jazeera notes, commentary on this 'hack' is mixed with some expressing hope that it will encourage greater security developments and others eschewing his efforts as "toy"-based and not a problem for commercial drones... Time will tell of course...
Didn't they say the same about the NSA website before it was hacked? Seems to us like the consequences here are a little larger...
When people think of computer and IT companies, names like Intel, Microsoft, IBM and Apple are usually the first that spring to mind. Companies, in other words, that specialize in computers, software and consumer electronics.
The reach of computer tech, however, is far greater and more transformational. It has come to touch everything we do. Rapid improvements in computer processing capacity, thanks to the ongoing fulfillment of Moore’s law, mean the things we are doing keep getting better.
High-performance computers are making possible higher rates of drug discovery that haven’t been possible in the past.
We’ve seen this sort of transformation of the U.S. economy before. Waves of new general-purpose technologies have historically grown the U.S. economy and improved the standard of living for its citizens.
Take rail transportation as an example. In 1850, before this tech was widespread, U.S. gross domestic product was smaller than that of Italy. Then came the railroads, connecting the vast continent and making it possible for the U.S. to become an industrial, urban nation. This disruptive technological change made the U.S. the world’s top manufacturer and largest economy by 1900. The adoption of electrification and automobiles would continue the trend into the new century.
These technologies gave the U.S. economy muscles. Now, with the computer and information tech revolution, it is growing brains. Furthermore, this revolution still has a long way to run. While the physical economy still dwarfs the digital one, that will change over the next 20 years.
As I often like to point out, one of the much overlooked areas where this is happening is biomedical research. This year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to three researchers, Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel, “for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.” Instead of using balls and sticks to model molecules, chemists are now able to do so using fast computer models.
And of course, no chemical system is more complex than human biology. This sort of modeling, made possible by computer tech, means that software is replacing wetware. We can now create computer models as silicon-based stand-ins for biology. Using these algorithms for cells and tissues, we are discovering new ways to treat disease. High-performance computers are making possible higher rates of drug discovery that haven’t been possible in the past.
Health care, of course, is a huge chunk of the U.S. economy, accounting for some one-sixth of the nation’s GDP, but it isn’t the only area that is being disrupted in this way. Energy also makes up a large share, and it too is being transformed by computational tech.
We are in the midst of an energy revolution, although it has been a long time in the making.
New computer tech, along with sensors and networks, has made it possible to extract oil and gas where it wasn’t possible before. Back in 1979, exploratory drilling turned up a productive well only once in every seven tries. By the 1980s, however, new computing tech made it possible to perform seismic surveys and model what things look like underground. The number of unproductive holes drilled into the ground fell sharply.
But things really got going in the 2000s in the U.S., where for decades, oil and gas production had been in decline.
As you know, new tech called fracking began to be used to make previously unproductive deposits viable, as well as bring old tapped-out fields back into production.
Also known as hydrofracking, this method of oil extraction uses high-pressure fluid to fracture oil-bearing formations underground, releasing their valuable hydrocarbon content. But fracking depends on the latest in sensing and computing technology.
Since 2008, U.S. production has enjoyed a sharp upswing. In fact, the International Energy Agency is now projecting that the U.S. could become the world’s largest oil producer in the next two years, surpassing Russia and even Saudi Arabia.
All of this is being driven by tech. There’s plenty of money to be made in oil itself, of course, but there is also the tech making it possible. Today I’d like to tell you about a tech company specializing in the oil and gas extraction business.
The sensors aren’t only helpful for finding oil in the ground; they are also used to draw a map while a well is hydrofracked.
Computer-assisted oil and gas production relies on sound propagated underground in order to learn about the subterranean environment. Seismic sensors, also called geophones, are used to detect vibrations in the ground generated by special ground-vibrating equipment. The data are then used to build an underground 3-D map.
The seismic maps are critical for tapping previously unavailable resources. In many shale formations, for example, the oil- and gas-bearing layer might be only 200 feet thick but reside a mile underground. When the vertical well is drilled, it must be precisely located in order for horizontal shafts to branch out. Enhanced recovery techniques, which allow for greater production from aging fields, also require the use of sensing tech.
The sensors aren’t only helpful for finding oil in the ground; they are also used to draw a map while a well is hydrofracked. In hydrofracking, fluids are pumped into the well at high pressure, fracturing the rock. Particulate matter, such as sand, is injected along with the fluid to hold the fractures open. The fracturing itself is like a seismic event, and is detectable using seismic equipment, which can be used to determine the location and extent of the fractures.
There are also environmental reasons for good detection tech. Aquifers can be located near oil- and gas-bearing formations, and improper fracturing can cause leaks into the groundwater. Good sensing technology can be used to monitor and control the process, protecting this natural resource.
In short, the energy industry will have to make a major shift in seismic technology.
Conventional seismic sensing equipment uses cables run deep underground to the sensors. This is expensive, and cabling can cost millions for a single location. Deploying cabled systems is also a time-consuming and high-maintenance proposition. The rough environment of drilling sites isn’t friendly to equipment.
That’s why what the world needs now is new seismic sensing equipment. Stay tuned as we cover specific companies in this space in future issues!
Ad lucrum per scientia (toward wealth through science),
Ed. Note: The search for new technologies that will reshape industries is a never-ending process. And Ray has made it his life’s mission to seek out and discover those companies at the forefront of these new disruptive technologies… and which stand to benefit the most. Today’s email edition of Tomorrow in Review gave readers a unique opportunity to discover a few of these companies from themselves. If you didn’t get it, you might have missed out. Don’t let that happen again. Sign up for the FREE Tomorrow in Review email edition, right here.
The rise of modern day real estate feudalism: How a majority of Americans are missing out on the gains of the new rentier class.
Bruised, bloodied and left for dead. That’s the only way you could describe social media stocks after investors started selling back in September.
But all that could change in just a few short days. More on this idea in just a second…
For more than six weeks, the once-hot social media stocks couldn’t catch a bid. Facebook, LinkedIn Groupon and other popular names appeared to have topped out. Some even posted double-digit losses. While the broad market recovered from the government shutdown scare and moved higher into November, these momentum leaders weren’t invited to the party.
“Given the disappointing performance of the stocks and another bubble talk, the only pure play ETF tracking the performance of social media companies – Global X Social Media Index ETF lost nearly 3.62% over the trailing one-month period,” Zacks Investment Research reports. “This is in contrast with the gains of 2.33% for the broad technology fund and 2.69% for broad U.S. market fund.”
A lot of analysts have been quick to call the top in the richly-valued social media group and other high-flying internet stocks. However, yesterday’s price action shows that these stocks might not be as fragile as everyone believes.
Facebook and Yahoo! have snapped back to life. Both surged more than 4% yesterday. In fact, Yahoo! (a trade that’s up 15% since I initially alerted readers of my Rude Awakening PRO, several weeks ago) blasted to new 52-week highs.
This bullish action could trigger another wave of buying throughout the sector. The leaders are already moving, so it’s time to look for the second-tier names to get a boost if the rally holds. Remember, stocks tend to rally hard into the New Year. After underperforming the market in the fall, social media could surprise a lot of investors heading into 2014.
P.S. In this morning’s Rude Awakening email edition, I told investors to keep a close eye on these stocks for a trade over the next few sessions… and I even gave them a chance to discover a specific sympathy mover you can trade right now. Don’t miss another great opportunity to cash in on this end-of-year rally. Sign up for the FREE Rude Awakening email edition, right here.