Pain management is a huge market in the medical world, as you’re no doubt aware — and buckets of money are pouring down on the many, many little biotech stocks who are trying to develop new pain medications, or to tweak existing medications to make them safer or less likely to be abused. So it’s no surprise that the promise of a “tiny device that could end all unnecessary pain” caught the eye of quite a few Gumshoe readers recently when Byron King started sending out this ad for his Military-Tech Alert.
The basic premise of the newsletter, is currently being sold for $1,500 a year, is that the military is spending billions on new technologies — through DARPA and other ventures — and that some of those technologies will be hugely lucrative for the private firms that get DARPA R&D funding, making investors in those companies rich as the next wave of military-launched technology hits the “real world” … much like previous DARPA projects like the Internet and GPS created hugely profitable civilian enterprises.
Here’s how he puts it in the ad:
“It’s only a matter of time before military breakthroughs hit the mainstream.
“When they do, a small fortune can turn into a big one.
“Look what happened with Siri, the talking assistant that started out as military speech recognition technology back in the 1970s. Now it’s built into every iPhone.
“Or Google Maps, Skype, and Windows. Satellites and digital cameras. Microwave ovens. Plastic surgery. All are worth fortunes as products. And all owe their start to the military.
“Even Kleenex tissues first came out as filters in World War I gas masks.
“It’s only a matter of time before this miracle medical device that I’ll show you makes it out into the general public too. Along with all the valuable drug-free solutions.”
So, putting aside the fact that there’s not necessarily a straight line to be drawn between “very cool technology” and “who eventually ends up making money from it,” what’s the next wave that Byron King sees coming?
He thinks it will be the new “Brain Initiative” from the Federal Government that’s somewhat comparable to the human genome mapping project — a push to better understand (and image) the brain and all its pathways. He says that the government “poured $3.8 billion” into the DNA mapping initiative, though it was eventually Craig Venter and Celera Genomics (not without controversy) that put it over the final hurdle… more from King:
“When you tally it up, the genome breakthrough has — so far — added an extra $800 billion back into the American economy. That’s a $211 return on every $1 invested.
“Some of that work was done by publicly traded companies that got paid for research.
“And a lot of the wealth went right back to their investors.
“With soaring biotech stocks like Amgen, Celgene, and Biogen Idec.”
I’m not sure where the $800 billion value estimate comes from, but certainly the mapping of the human genome, and more recent advances like faster and cheaper genetic sequencing, have had a huge financial impact — the problem, of course, is that even a soothsayer would have probably had some trouble identifying the two or three companies that would be the largest eventual beneficiaries of that scientific advancement back in 2000 when the genome map was first published, but, well, if we weren’t trying to predict the future we wouldn’t be interested in investing in individual stocks, right?
Those three big examples, which will be among the few biotech stocks that sound familiar to most people who aren’t active biotech investors, have all done quite well since the last push of genome mapping in 2000, of course — Celgene is up almost 4,000%, Biogen about 800%, and Amgen about 150% (The S&P is up about 50% since then, incidentally). If you go back a bit further to enjoy some of the late-90s runup in tech and biotech (and in stocks in general), the numbers are more dramatic. Over the last five years, none of those stocks have beaten the uber-bull run in the Biotech index (as represented by the BIB ETF), which is up about 1,200% in just five years.
But I digress (again). So presumably Byron King has picked out the early winner of this brain/pain research, right?
Well, he does go into the early stage research being funded by DARPA, which is where we get that “tiny device that could end all unnecessary pain” pitch…
“We’re calling it the ‘Superhero Circuit’
“DARPA’s code name for this project is ‘ElectRX.’
“But we’ve got a different name for it — we call it the ‘Superhero Circuit.’Are you getting our free Daily Update
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“And not just because, as they wrote in Discovery News,
‘[These] tiny devices could give humans self-healing superpowers…’
“But also because — unlike many drugs — this medical device won’t bypass your body’s own natural system of immunity and recovery… it amplifies what’s already there.
“Doctors call this natural healing process ‘neuromodulation.’
“When it works, your body trades billions of nerve impulses between brain and body, instructing your organs to respond to pain, fix damage, and even rebuild body tissue.”
OK, so that’s the goal. Neuromodulation exists and is FDA approved in some devices, but we’re still quite a ways from the little implantable wire-sized doohickeys that are dreamt up by DARPA scientists — most of the devices are pacemaker-size, I gather, and have to be worn (and wired into your body) or surgically implanted, and they’re targeting a few specific diseases and symptoms.
The big dream is curing depression, ending pain, stimulating recovery from traumatic injury, ending obesity through appetite suppression, ending Alzheimer’s Disease… lots of big-money targets in that list, to be sure.
And then, the million-dollar question:
“A device that could do that could ultimately carve away billions of dollars from Big Pharma… radically cut back on surgical costs… and replace all kinds of medical equipment sales.
“Which companies could see the first wave of cash?”
That sends us, finally, to the individual stocks Byron King is teasing — and you