Tall, dark, and handsome… Anthony Atala is not a guy you could easily mistake for Dr. Frankenstein.
Yet, in his white lab coat, Dr. Atala is doing exactly what author Mary Shelley wrote about so long ago. A mad scientist in his own right, Dr. Atala is busy growing body parts in his Wake Forest lab.
A finger here, a bladder there… Dr. Atala is currently growing dozens of different tissues. And from heart valves to muscles to ears, his Institute for Regenerative Medicine is literally about to turn the world on its head.
Working at one of the world’s largest research facilities dedicated to regenerative medicine, the modern Dr. Frankenstein is adamant that his research will one day replace diseased or damaged tissue using homegrown replacement parts.
After all, as Dr. Atala often pondered, “A salamander can grow back its leg, why can’t a human do the same?”
Now some twenty-four years later, that notion is no longer just a wild hypothetical, but a scientific fact, stripped from the pages of a 194-year-old novel.
Today, regenerative medicine stocks are the companies to watch as this amazing new technology unfolds.
The Promise of Regenerative Medicine
Take the story of Claudia Castillo, for instance.
In 2008, this 30-year-old mother of two became the first patient to receive a whole organ transplant without the need for powerful anti-rejection drugs. Damaged by a bout of tuberculosis, her entire windpipe was repaired with an entire replacement part, created with the help of her own stem cells.
And given the choice between losing a lung or becoming a guinea pig for a radical new medical technique, Castillo chose the latter — becoming one of the pioneers for future regenerative surgeries.
Her life these days is not only back to normal, but she recently called her doctors from a nightclub to them she had been dancing all night. Before the ground-breaking surgery, Castillo could barely climb the stairs.
“The reason this technology works is that it’s not really surgery,” Dr. Atala explains; “we’re just priming the pump” by putting the appropriate cells into the appropriate place and asking the body to do the rest.
The magic, in this case, is provided by stem cells — an often controversial approach.
Stem cells are “unprogrammed” cells in the human body that have the ability to become other types of cells. And because these unique cells can become bone, muscle, cartilage, and other specialized types of cells, they have the potential to treat many diseases — including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer.
However, because a portion of stem cells are found in embryos at very early stages of development (embryonic stem cells), research into their use has largely been limited, due to executive order. Adult stem cells found in organs (such as bone marrow and the brain) are the stem cells making most of the recent headlines.
Regenerative Medicine Companies Get a Boost
The obstacles faced by stem cell research have recently changed, beginning with the stroke of the president’s pen on March 9, 2009. Obama signed Executive Order 13505, enabling further embryonic stem cell research, and giving additional hope to millions of people living with diabetes, heart disease, and countless other diseases.
One patient who stands to benefit from continued biotech research is a paraplegic named Bart Hedges. On a football field last fall, Bart and his family got the brutal answer to their “what if” question, as a routine tackle sent Bart to the hospital on a stretcher.
Later that day, news was delivered to Bart and his family that a cracked fourth vertebra would leave him paralyzed from the neck down.
The sad part is that Bart was not the only one to take an ambulance ride that afternoon; a spinal cord injury is sustained by an individual every 41 minutes…
In fact, 11,000 people join Bart each year — adding to the list of 250,000 Americans already living with a spinal cord injury.
And I don’t have to tell you that the cost of this national tragedy — both emotionally and financially — cannot possibly be measured.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is suffering a yearly economic drain of more than $ 20,383,466,000 from spinal cord injuries alone… the equivalent of two-thirds the entire budget of the National Institutes of Health for 2009!
Even still, we invest less than 1% of those costs into the research that will give Bart and others who share his condition a definitive solution: a life without a wheelchair.
That’s why efforts to advance regenerative medicine using stem cell research would not only create a new generation of life-saving products… but also create a tremendous new global industry, based right here in the United States.
And I don’t have to tell you that if these regenerative stem cell therapies allow for so much as a toe wiggle for someone like Bart Hedges, they would change the face of medical science forever — and earn biotech investors big bucks every step of the way.
The good news: this is much closer to becoming a reality than most people realize. Thanks to the work of Dr. Atala and numerous others, the biotech bull market continues.
And if you are interested in seeing for yourself how radical this new medical field is, check out this video from 60 Minutes. It is simply amazing.
Your bargain-hunting analyst,
Steve Christ, Investment Director
The Wealth Advisory
P.S. The biotech bull market is a story that we’ve been following for nearly two years now. In fact, our research has led us to the best stem cell stock on the market today. To learn more about The Wealth Advisory and how to play this radical trend in medicine, click here.