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Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s timeless, enduring depiction of a long-eared puppy.
Perhaps you had something else in mind?
Longterm projects like BioPub invariably have a way of beginning as if one is driving in the dark, in dense fog, with one headlamp out. Sure, there’s a destination, a goal, an endpoint, but commonly one skitters on foal legs for the first few years until sufficient time elapses that you find your bearings, your footing, and really learn what it is that you’re on about. With world and time enough, your vision, such as it is, becomes clearer to you…and in that vision certain domains roll into focus that some miles back you knew nothing of though all along they were there. Example? First we discovered the power of townhall meetings to draw us together and make certain points clear by live dialogue. But soon it dawned on me that if I was guiding you based on access to company leadership, that didn’t you deserve that same opportunity, at least a derivative of it? So we began having guest CEOs at our gatherings. By that point webcasting software had gotten debugged enough, facile enough and had come down in price enough to drive us to want to experiment with actual broadcasting of our public meet-ups with management. Took us some time to get that one right, test-driving and discarding six inferior (some of them quite bughouse-nuts) platforms til we stumbled onto Zoom.
Part of realizing your long-term vision, including the things you didn’t know you didn’t know about it, includes having the right line-up of people to pack your wallop. Even the Beatles didn’t get it right the first time (shrinks love trafficking in trick phrases that can both heal by capturing a patient’s feelings but also goad the patient to healthy self-reflection; “Ah, I understand….you feel like the Pete Best of your own life narrative….” is an overworn psychotherapy meme). BioPub will never have as maddeningly unstable a line-up as Jethro Tull, but we’ve not been beyond tuning the brass plate naming our dramatis personae to perfect things…..and think by Jove we’ve got it right at last. (No one can be Led Zeppelin, ending as they began, and editor Jonathan Coulborn, who works hard NOT to channel Robert Plant, overweeningly would agree).
Late in 2018, drifting into the holiday season, I realized there was another enchanted citadel at which I wanted the BioPub bus to make regular stops. I was tired of trying to self-excite based on a mere menu of choices (“I’ll have the dolmatakia and some hummus, but no tabbouleh today thanks”) drawn from lists of ticker symbols and stocks getting media attention elsewhere. As an editor, I felt I was observing and channeling what I saw from functional residence inside a clear plastic bubble: the senses worked, but it was as if I had no limbs, no clasping capability. I felt like an actor entrapped within the confines of the Proscenium arch, and wanted to leap offstage and into the agora. I wanted BioPub to begin FINDING companies in an embryonic stage, curate and cultivate them, and meanwhile channel them rather exclusively to you as early offerings before anyone else was aware. I didn’t want to be a passive selector of ceramic urns and vases for you but rather to MAKE pottery for you, make it in the way we like it. Repeatedly when I think along the track I’m now thinking, the storyline of the second major Star Trek film sneaks into my consciousness. Remember the Kobayashi Maru maneuver? Kirk didn’t like the outcome of the wargame and so reprogrammed the computer. We at BioPub don’t always like the reality of biotech as we find it. We could be passive observers. Or we could try altering the fabric of reality, rejiggering things as our abilities allow us. And the latter is the path we have chosen. I’ve long found much to love and appreciate in the teachings of Buddhism, but passive acceptance? Not for me. There’s just too much chronic and constant pressure on my cerebral cortex to stand by and let things, watch things, happen, and take no action. You might say I am afflicted with ideological akathisia.
Our first major success in this vein was NervGen; a pothole as regards its IND notwithstanding, we felt then and continue to regard NervGen as the investment of a lifetime….now a nanocap pursuing multiple indications, success in any of which will catapult it likely to billion dollar valuations (yes in looneys or greenbacks). On that note and in a spirit of full disclosure, many of you became aware yesterday of a recent NervGen private placement and are probably wondering why BioPub was excluded. The truth is, we weren’t. The facts are that CEO Paul Brennan contacted me late on afternoon, and said the subsequent conversation had to remain confidential until yesterday passed because what he was imparting was insider information. Insiders cannot trade legally on insider information, and typically within a public company, lawyers for the company will denote “clear space” news-free buying intervals to which insiders are to confine their public purchases of shares. However, and completely legally, insiders may at any time participate in private placements even if their impetus for so acting is insider information. It’s true, ask Cleveland or Traydon, both CPAs. I will lead you to infer what you will: the company had decided to have a CONFIDENTIAL private placement to allow insiders to bulk up positions, and was willing to let BioPubsters who are qualified investors participate. But the time given to me was quite limited…literally about 36 hours. Because the placement was confidential, I could not announce it at BioPub,’s website, and every participant or potential participant first had to agree to blackout rules (no public trading until the placement closure had been announced as it was yesterday). They had to agree to those rules on faith before they even knew why I was contacting them. I have a genuine and legitimate fantasy of meeting and befriending every reader, but we’re not there yet, and I was left with a very brief interval to contact people that I KNEW to be qualified investors and offer them participation. I genuinely like all here, and I hope you know me well enough by now to accept that I purposefully excluded no one. But we realized we really don’t know who all our qualified investors are, and are now completing a confidential database of those (thank you YVR Trader). My point in this digression, of course, is that something prompted a decision to have a confidential private placement…and I think beyond that you can figure out my drift. Certainly it was not because of bad news looming…..and so let me emphasize what I personally regard as the urgency of investing in this extraordinary company, in my opinion. As always, my litany of disclaimers: that we talk up NervGen is based on OUR feelings about it. We’ ve had other companies wave money at us in exchange for prospective coverage and we walk away, always. We are not “recommending” or soliciting that you invest, But we do try to share with you our sentiments and on what those are based. NervGen is a top-five holding for me. How many biotechs do you know of that are PLAUSIBLE 100-or-more baggers?
With NervGen as the first channeled curated investment opportunity last year, our first ever, we followed on with StemoniX, still in my view a good call and a company now offering a bridge note financing. I retain a long position in preferred shares there, and keep in touch with CEO Peng Yeh.
Know Labs became part of our permanent stable of companies and we channeled through BioPub two bridge note offerings last year as well as a third one this year. There is big news yet to come from Know this year I’m not yet a liberty to disclose, but suffice things to say that a remarkable, impressive fraction of the overall financing Know has fetched from these bridge notes has come from BioPub readers. We’ve gotten management’s attention, you can be sure.
Our fourth offering last year continues this year: Acurx, promulgated by the formidable duo of David Luci, JD, a former NY merger and acquisitions attorney, and partner Robert DeLuccia, a veteran drug developer who spent many years at Sanofi. The pair purchased intellectual property in the form of a new set of chemical entities that inhibit DNA polymerase 3c…..long an industry antibiotic target, but first tried and then abandoned years ago because of patient toxicity issues. Acurx’s lead agent, ibezapolstat sailed through phase 1 with nary a hitch, and has now cured the first two patients treated in phase 2a as additional patients are sought. Meanwhile, Acurx appears to have secured composition of matter patents on its second antibiotic to be promulgated and between NCE and QIDP status should have IP protection through 2039. The company’s eventual goal per our recent webcast is IPO, and Mr Luci thinks that could be priced in the range of $6 per share vs the $4 at which shares are now being sold in capital raising. The plum of course is the very real likelihood of takeover at a considerable premium above $6.
Acurx remains on the active offering list as well as two newcomers this year: Phileas Pharmaceuticals, helmed by CohBar board member Philippe Calais, PharmD, PhD, and ImmunoPhotonics, helmed by Lu Alleruzzo, MBA. And here I come to a major point I wanted to make in this excursion. I posted an ambiguous lead-in image to convey the ambiguous spot in which these placements have me. Response, at least as of yet, to the latter two offerings hasn’t been what we’d hoped. Having said that, we don’t precisely measure our worth as an entity by funding success…and then again we do. Why that mixed message? Because if we wish to continue bringing you the BEST offerings in early stage biotech, we must amass a track record that shows companies that we are worth working with. The old adage about how to be a successful biotech investor is still true: Be Early and Be RIght. We are confident we are right about these companies, and we want you to get in early because that’s how you’ll profit the most in the long term.
We realize we are messaging you at a time of unprecedented sociological weirdness, Some of you may be out of work or seeing businesses have lean times. Markets have behaved mysteriously. Many of you had a good biotech investing year last year and one cannot fault you for perhaps catching your breath and gloating. But the year is halfway over or nearly so. From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: The moving hand writes and having writ moves on. We’d encourage you to think in terms of profit -taking and redeploying your assets into promising new scenarios. And we have a couple of very promising new scenarios yet to present to you this year. We know our readers aren’t stupid and I am sure many of you have wondered: do I stand personally to benefit from your participation in these offerings? I do not. That’s not how BioPub is formulated. We bring these to you because first, a rising tide lifts all boats. When we invest, we do well as the companies do well…and wellness at the companies serves ultimately to make patients the beneficiaries. A latent virtuous circle is at work.
At the same time, it’s important you recognize I am not cracking a whip and admonishing you to invest. Just as we are not a trading advisory, we cannot decide if these investments are right for you, and respect your intelligence way to much to make forays in that direction. A good shepherd leads the flock to the water…..but he can’t force them to drink and wouldn’t try to, and actually cannot be certain they are even thirsty. He just does his best. We feel we do our best work for you when we both track current small cap bio special situations and comment on those but also procure situations for you, doing all we can along the way to coach those situations and counsel them as to how to make themselves most palatable to all investors, including BioPub readers. Bear in mind all the while our hardscrabble approach to following existing companies: regular meetings with management. We are the only biotech publication I’m aware of doing so. When communication with management breaks down we’ve learned this invariably portends trouble at the company and tend to exit……and empiricism has taught us that’s the right approach.
Acurx, Phileas and immunophotonics are genuinely all transformational companies that DO measure up to BioPub’s standards….and believe us those standards are up there where the air is thin. We’ve had some concerns that perhaps the full relevance of Phileas and ImmunoPhotonics might have been contaminated by headline distraction at the time of their prior webcasts. Every nation in which readers live was headed then into heavy weather and knew not what to expect…..and many of you were perhaps rightly more concerned with jobs, stockpiling supplies and food, and the wellbeing of family. The pandemic crisis is not over, but we wonder if it’s jumping the shark now. We think that the best thing for these companies we’ve chosen to back is continuing to back them…continuing to message them. We need to be prepared to resume normal lives and meanwhile none of us benefits from wallowing in crisis.
The editors and I have decided to have encore webcasts presenting Phileas and ImmunoPhotonics afresh late next week….watch for announcements. Both companies have had significant positive interim developments. We’d like to see them get all the BioPub backing they can muster, though we crack no whips and neither do we blather through megaphones. We think that revisiting them is only fair to the companies because we predict their efforts will alter the course of how medicine is practiced.
Thank you for reading this far and thank you for being a BioPub reader. We can’t say it enough: we cherish you, and seeing you do well in your investing is our cause celebre.
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