That’s a mysterious headline, right?
The pitch we’re looking at today is from Dave Lashmet at Stansberry, who’s selling his Stansberry Venture newsletter for $5,000 — and the carrot he’s dangling to get you to subscribe is this “most disruptive biotech discovery” … which, it turns out, is a form of radiation therapy that, in combination with cancer immunotherapy, has perhaps some potential for “abscopal” results.
Here’s part of the intro to the long ad letter, to give you a sense of what they’re teasing:
“At a behind-closed-doors industry meeting, the results of an incredible new discovery will be announced…
“Our team of analysts will be in the room to confirm this announcement live – and in just a few days, a tiny, early-stage company we’ve been following could make its investors a small fortune….
“Shortly after 5:15pm on Monday, October 19th, we’re doing something we have never done before.
“In conference room 005, at a convention center in the southwestern U.S., a group of biotech researchers will make a huge and important announcement…
“We’ll be in the room, in person – and if positive results are confirmed, as we expect – we’ll send out a full update to members of our e-mail list.
“By the next day, investors could be up as much as 100% or more.”
Sounds mysterious, right? So which conference is this, what mysterious presentation is being made? How will this make us a “small fortune?”
The ad goes on for quite a while, but the basic gist is that Lashmet is following the advancement of radiation therapy, particularly the more advanced and specialized (and expensive) proton therapy, and that he’s sifting through the clinical trials now underway or being presented (including at this mysterious conference, today) because he thinks there’s a developing “abscopal” effect when radiation therapy is combined with immunotherapies.
The abscopal effect is something that folks don’t seem to understand very well yet, and from what I can tell it’s extremely rare, but it basically refers to physically targeted cancer therapy whose impact is spread throughout the body, far beyond the area targeted. In most cases, from what I can tell, this has been seen when local radiation treatment of a tumor has also had a profoundly positive impact on metastasized cancer — so even after a cancer has spread, treating it with radiation at a single point had a positive impact in fighting the tumors elsewhere in the body.
Here’s a little sampling of Lashmet’s description:
“The small company I want to tell you about today is one of the leaders in the field of proton beam therapy.
“And let me reiterate: This technology is already approved by the U.S. FDA. It’s already being used in dozens of treatment centers around the world.
“What’s such a huge deal here is that there’s been a new development which will make this therapy much more attractive to cancer patients…
“And when this information goes public, early investors are going to make extraordinary gains, in a very short time….
“The main component of a proton beam machine is the cyclotron – a huge “wheel” that accelerates proton particles, which can then be aimed directly at a tumor.
“The advantage of proton treatment is that the doctor can precisely control where the proton releases the bulk of its cancer-fighting energy….
“Better yet, when the proton beam hits its target, it does not go through it like x-rays. It stops right at the tumor. So the beams miss your brain. And your heart. And your bladder. The organs that keep you alive.”
You may have heard of proton beam therapy, it’s been around for decades and has been slowly growing as new centers are opened in the US and around the world. It has proven utility for some specialized cancers and patients, particularly for pediatric head and neck cancers, and is being widely used (and promoted, in some cases) for cancers where it is not necessarily the most effective (or cost-effective) treatment (like early stage prostate cancer, for example).
Insurers seem to be conflicted from what quick reading I’ve done this morning, because they don’t want to get in the habit of funding expensive proton therapy for diseases that can be treated just as well (or better, some say) for a lot less money, but that’s true of insurance companies in the face of almost every advance — they want proof, and want to be able to compare outcomes and costs, and proton therapy is still pretty tiny when it comes to the global cancer treatment marketplace. The companies and hospitals who are building and operating proton therapy centers, on the other hand, would like to have as many patients as possible because volume creates financial viability — they don’t want to spend millions on a radiation facility that only treats a few rare cancers a month, they want to treat the thousands of patients who have much more common cancers.
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And, frankly, just about every company with a minimally invasive or targeted or high-tech approach wants to target prostate cancer — because it’s a huge market, because dudes don’t like having surgery down there where a slip by the surgeon means you’re wearing diapers, and because dudes like to be using the newest and coolest technology. Having someone sharpen up a scalpel is a lot less appealing than having someone wheel you into a machine that looks like it would fit in perfectly in the sick bay aboard the USS Enterprise (the Star Trek one, not the aircraft carrier). Every medical device executive has read the Intuitive Surgical case studies and knows that if you can market to men that there’s a way to get rid of their prostate cancer with less risk, the line will form quickly and patients will demand that their hospitals buy whatever the awesome new machine is.
That’s a little bit facetious… but it does apply here: Proton beam radiation centers have to get large volumes of patients, and prostate cancer is the favored market of almost all of them (except, perhaps, for the Mayo Clinic — who says they’re targeting head and neck cancers with their proton beam center and might also just go after advanced prostate cancer)
But that’s not really what Lashmet is talking about, I’ve gotten off track again. He is touting a proton beam company, and he does