“Proof One Doctor Can Grow New Organs, Regenerate Limbs, and Eradicate Disease” (Steve Christ)

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, February 16, 2011

This next teaser stock, we’re told …

“Is Proof One Doctor Can Grow New Organs, Regenerate Limbs, and Eradicate Disease

“And you can buy shares of his company right now, before anyone else knows it exists.”

The tease is to get you to subscribe to Steve Christ’s newsletter, The Wealth Advisory — I’ve written about a few teasers for this newsletter in the past, though it’s been a while — but the idea of regenerative medicine is certainly a perennial hit with newsletter copywriter, it combines science fiction with the dream of fabulous profits, what’s not to like?

If you subscribe to his newsletter, you get a special report that he’s teasing:

“Regenerative Medicine: Growing Body Parts, Harvesting Profits. This report will give me all the details I need to know to capture a fortune from medicine’s next frontier. Not only could it make me a millionaire in the coming weeks, but it stands to be the most profitable pick I’ve ever made.”

So let’s see who this little miracle stock is, shall we?

The ad is a video presentation that actually includes some video — it’s not just Steve Christ reading his sales letter out loud, so that’s refreshing. There are excerpts from a 60 Minutes episode regarding regenerative medicine, including interviews with a military doctor using “pixie dust” made from pig bladders to help regrow injured body pats, and with a Wake Forest doctor who is using stem cells to grow body parts (like an ear) in the laboratory. It’s this second guy, I think, that Christ is interested in.

We get a few other clues along the way — that this is a “$3 biotech company” that might be the first to “bring one of these solutions to market” and make us all terribly wealthy.

And, naturally, that the technology will wipe out virtually every disease known to man, completely change emergency medicine, and re-grow limbs lost in battle.

We also get teased about an animal that scientists have long been fascinated with, one with the ability to regrow its own limbs — he doesn’t actually get specific with that hint and just sort of drops that train of thought, but I assume he’s talking about salamanders.

As a way to get us excited about the possible profits, we get an example of an early investment in Amgen, which would have turned $1,000 into over $300,000 — and we also get the same basic spiel about Genzyme and we’re told that this is “exactly that same type of play.”

Strangely enough, we don’t hear anything about the thousands of biotech startups that quietly (or not so quietly) disappeared as their science failed to pan out or they ran out of money (perhaps for good reason, as we’ll see in a moment).

So what other clues do we get? We’re told that this firm has already completed phase II trials, and “this $3.00 company is about to transform modern medicine as we know it.”

Not only that, but we’re told that this little company will end our current healthcare mess, curing diabetes and kidney disease and reducing our trillion dollar health cost problem to mere pennies! An unusually bold promise for a little company you never heard of, no?

And it sounds deceptively simple: doctors harvest a few cells, plant them in a mold, and the body part grows. Here’s another quote:

“In as little as eight weeks, the mold dissolves and is replaced by a living, functioning organ … all grown completely from the patient’s own cells”

More quotes to tantalize and provide some clues?

“The doctor in the video has shown us all what is possible”

and “Phase III trials are just around the corner”

So how do we “generate life changing wealth in as little as a few months?” Well, here’s our last clue … then I’ll tell you what I think:

“One of the doctors from the video is on the board of a biotech company trading for only a few bucks. And it is his plan to use this company to commercialize what he has done in the lab — making a fortune in the process.”

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The main doctor seen in the excerpt from the 60 Minutes story is Anthony Atala — you can read about that story here if you’re interested, and see a few of the same clips that Christ excerpted. The story ran back in December of 2009, so it’s not exactly breaking news on that front.

And Dr. Atala is a leading scientist in regenerative medicine — his lab at Wake Forest University is a big center, apparently, for growing organs using stem cells (and actually, he got some fame a few years ago for his work in using adult stem cells instead of embryonic stem cells, which was used as ammunition in the battle over stem cell therapy legislation).

And he is the “Scientific Founder and Chairman” of Tengion’s Research and Development Advisory Board (not the board of directors, and he doesn’t seem to be a major owner of the shares) of a little biotech company that’s trying to commercialize some work in his area of specialty, presumably using some of his patents or expertise. And though he’s not a big owner of the company, presumably he does hope that it will be lucrative for him — Tengion has reportedly licensed his technology (there’s a profile of Anthonly Atala from Fast Company here that goes into some more detail).

So yes, I think our solution today is a little company called Tengion (TNGN), which was trading at $3 last week and is once again at a bit less than $3 today after a wild four or five days. And, despite the fact that the company went public less than a year ago, it is both tiny and broke.

Tengion has indeed completed some Phase II trials for its “neo-bladder” product, a bladder augment that’s created from a patient’s own cells, they’ve tested this for spina bifida and spinal cord injury patients, and they also announced enrollment of a third Phase II trial for patients with “non-neurogenic active bladder” about three years ago, though I don’t see results from that one yet and it’s not listed on their “pipeline” page (initial results from at least one of the other phase II trials was announced to relatively little fanfare