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Big Bets in Biotech Investing

Written By Jason Stutman

Posted July 29, 2013

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a science nerd.techmed

But that’s OK. There is plenty to gain from being in this field.

Since I was young, technology had always fascinated me…

Even my preferences for media and entertainment were surrounded by the world of science fiction.

I grew up reading futuristic stories by Issac Asimov, such as the 1950’s classic I, Robot.

And like bees to pollen, I was drawn to films containing elements of space, time travel, and robotics.

Logan’s Run, Alien, and Terminator were three of my favorite movies.

I’ll even admit to liking RoboCop in order to drive home my point. (Try not to laugh too hard at me for that one.)

But there is one movie that stands out in my mind as the greatest science fiction film of all time.

That movie is The Matrix.

And while I was researching a new technology this morning (I’ll tell you about it in just a second), I couldn’t help but be reminded of that movie.

There is a scene in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves is having a dream. And in this dream, a group of suited men implant a robotic bug inside his body.

And as this bug terrifyingly crawls its way into Keanu’s stomach through his navel, our hero wakes up, quickly relieved that he is back to reality (or so we think).

See, it’s not long before we realize that the bug was real, and a comparably grotesque scene of bug extraction follows.

Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the details…

I remember watching grown men cringe and squirm in their seats at the Long Island cinema where I first saw this scene.

And I can’t blame them – the prospect of having electronics embedded in your body is unsettling, to say the least.

Yet despite our natural aversion to having unnatural things inside of our bodies, the importance of health will always trump those concerns.

Bold Steps

The fact is, we already merge technology with our natural bodies. From pacemakers to bionic limbs to cochlear implants, medical biotechnology may be more common than you think.

Worldwide, there are currently 3 million individuals with pacemakers, and an additional 600,000 implantations are performed annually.

And cochlear implants have aided in the hearing of over 220,000 different people.

Today, there are over 40,000 bioscience businesses in the U.S. accounting for over 1.6 million jobs.

Globally, there are around 598 publicly traded biotechnology companies with a combined revenue growth of 8 percent a year.

Even more impressive, the total market capitalization of biotechnology companies reached $477.3 billion in 2012, representing a 27 percent increase from the year before.

And total net income reached $5.2 billion, marking an increase of 37 percent.

Simply put, this is an industry where investors like you can make huge profits – it’s only a matter of identifying the right companies.



British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) is seeking to use electrical impulses inside your body as a new form of medication.

This idea has been coined “electroceuticals” and involves linking human nerve cells with electronic circuits in order to bring those cells to a healthy state.

The process would work by either turning on or shutting off electrical impulses in organs to force them to operate a certain way. For instance, this technology could jump-start the pancreas of a diabetic patient in order to produce insulin.

Pretty amazing, right?

GSK is funding as many as 40 scientists across various research labs including MIT, the Feinstein Institute of Medical Research, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The research at the Feinstein Institute is particularly interesting – its labs have been identifying neural codes of various diseases.

By understanding these codes, there is the potential to target points of intervention and treat diseases with electroceuticals.

In addition to GSK, Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE: MDT) also intends to dip its toes into this new form of medicine.

Vice president John LaLonde suggested the company is interested in partnering with pharmaceutical companies in order to advance the technology.

And while the investments these companies are making are incredibly important, we shouldn’t expect any profits to arise from electroceuticals just yet.

The fact is, this technology still has a long way to go.

For now, let’s keep an eye on this new form of medicine as it approaches practical applications. When the opportunity arises, we’ll be one step ahead of the market.

Turning progress to profits,

  JS Sig

Jason Stutman

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