I haven’t looked at a Jeff Brown pitch for a while, so I thought I’d try to answer a raft of recent reader questions with a look at his latest “AI drug discovery” tease.
It’s an impressive-sounding pitch, to be sure, all about how AI can make the discovery and testing of new drugs far more effective and efficient… and, of course, there’s “one tiny company” at the heart of it all, which you’ll only learn about if you pony up $2,000 for a subscription to his Exponential Tech Investor.
Or, of course, if you keep reading and seeing what the Thinkolator can reveal for us… at a much more free-ish price. Though the real cost, of course, is that you’ll have to think for yourself a little bit. It’s OK, thinking can be fun!
Here’s how the ad drew us in…
“While Amazon is using AI to modernize the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, a small, little-known company is using AI to modernize the entire biotechnology industry.
“In fact, this convergence of AI and biotech is completely changing the way drug discovery and therapeutic development is done….
“AI can quickly and cheaply screen a database of existing drugs to determine which ones have a reasonable probability of being effective against other disease targets. That takes much of the guesswork out.
“And it saves millions of dollars and valuable years in the process.”
And then as you proceed to the “presentation” we get the “behind the scenes” references to secret locations and unknown companies…
“Behind the scenes, at a facility tucked away in the northeastern corner of the United States…
“This explosive stock market event—this “Convergence” that’s happened just a few times in human history—is happening again…
“It’s happening at a small cap biotech company, 1% the size of Johnson & Johnson.
“And it’s upending the world of modern medicine as we know it.”
Johnson & Johnson (no relation, sadly) is a $450 billion company, so 1% of that size ain’t exactly tiny… but yes, we’ll stipulate that $4.5 billion would be considered a “small cap” these days. Any other clues?
Yep, we get plenty of hints… but first, a little rundown on what this company’s technology is doing. First, the inefficiencies that create the opportunity:
“… human drug researchers don’t really know what they’re doing…
“Only 1 in 5,000 drugs that are discovered in the lab… actually make it to market….
The process involves sorting through thousands of possible molecular combinations… trying to ‘guess’ the right sequence—the sequence that will become an FDA-approved drug.
“It’s like trying to randomly guess a password….
“Modern medicine as we know it—and the many miraculous cures we’ve found so far…
“All of it was built on that “slot machine”—on that 0.02%.
“So imagine this…Are you getting our free Daily Update
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“Imagine bumping that success rate up… to just 1%.
“What would that mean?
“Well, that would mean 50 times more drugs on the market.
“50 times as many answers to pain, suffering, and disease.”
That’s the basic spiel — smarter systems lead to better drug discovery, leading to more and better drugs, which would lead, one assumes, to more profits for those drug developers.
And that system, of course, is being sold by a small company. Here’s more from the pitch:
“This small cap has found a “new way” to discover drugs.
“This ‘new way’ isn’t aiming at 1% better odds… or 2% or even 3%… it’s aimed much, much higher…..
“This small cap is using artificial intelligence to discover drugs—without human input….
“I found this buried down on page 3, line 24 of a protected government document.
“Per this document, this company’s technology can, quote, ‘evaluate billions of molecules per week’ ….
“… if this AI can evaluate just 2 billion molecules per week, that means it’s no less than 10.3 billion percent faster than human beings.
“10.3 billion percent faster than the people who have discovered every cure to date.”
Other clues? Well, that “corner of the Northeastern US is, you may have heard of it, New York City….
“It’s in operation right now, in a lab in New York, at a tiny biotech company.
“Yet you haven’t heard a word about it.
“You haven’t read about it in the mainstream press… The Wall Street Journal hasn’t put it on its front page.”
And there are some big-name investors involved, as always…
“Bill Gates heard about it, of course. He’s purchased over sixteen million shares in this small cap. His fellow billionaires heard about it. David E. Shaw bought over 9 million shares… Ron Baron owns this stock too. So the information was there… somewhere.
“But most people—people like you—have been kept in the dark. Today that changes.”
And there are bunches of other quotes from luminaries and brand names to support Brown’s assertions of