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M. E. Garza
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M.E. Garza is one of the founders of the biotech and healthcare sector news portal He believes in getting the news from credible sources on the street and often reaches out to CEOs and newsmakers directly for interviews and discussions about their companies. Since he began... More
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  • Here's hoping the feds become better biotech investors with tax payer money
    Last November biotech investors started to see a slew of news releases issued by firms who got  $1 billion into biotech research and development in grants under the Therapeutic Discovery Tax Credit program which was enacted under President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Now, two lawmakers are proposing to revive the "one-time grant program" announced last year.

    We were quite critical of the fund initiative, which saw many biotechs (almost as many as are publicly traded) apply and given funds from. We weren't the only ones who thougth that these grants were spread too thin.  Given the news that this might be in play again, we continue to hope that these tax credits and grants are available to a more select group of companies when the feds start to hand out chunks of cash.

    Some have pointed to the fact that Novavax (Nasdaq:NVAX), for example, got just a small portion of the funds more than Sequoia Pharmaceuticals got. The problem, you see, is that Sequoia's offices are vacant and their employees were all laid off not long after they got the funds. Some wonder where the $733,437 in federal grants and discovery funds went.  Just three years ago, Sequoia was had plenty of cash from venture funds from big-name investors, a pipeline of promising HIV drugs and was a hot IPO candidate, but few would argue now that the money might have been better spent on any number of other cach-starved early-stage biotechs... Or would it?

    Biotech is an industry in which most products never make it from the lab to the pharmacy shelves. It's not uncommon to see many of these firms fall off the map. Meanwhile others are like cats who live their nine lives showing uncommonly good skills when it comes to raising capital.

    The Biotechnology Industry Organization (NYSE:BIO) released the following statement regarding the extension of the act which was introduced by Representatives Susan A. Davis (D-CA) and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-PA) and would would extend the Therapeutic Discovery Project for each fiscal year 2011 through 2017 and allows the program's qualified investments from 2009 through 2015.

    “The legislation introduced today by Representatives Davis and Schwartz extends the Therapeutic Discovery Project to support continued American innovation and accelerate the development of life-saving cures for numerous prominent diseases, such as cancers, mental illnesses, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. The bill provides much-needed support for biotechnology companies working on breakthrough therapies that could ultimately lower overall health care costs and cure these debilitating diseases within the next 30 years... As evidence of the project’s popularity suggests, Congress should consider extending the project for its second year and beyond in order to support American innovation and speed the development of life-saving cures."

    Theoretically, at least, the proposed extension is supposed to help companies "sustain or create high-quality jobs by providing capital assistance that supports their work and their work force," but given the small parcels we saw given out and announced in press release after press release we wonder just how many jobs and innovations were really created versus how many Sequoia scenarios took place instead.

    One thing is certain, many of the biotech leaders we've spoken to were less than satisfied with the way the original therapeutic discovery grants were distributed.

    “That wasn’t what we considered ideal,” Biotechnology Industry Organization CEO Jim Greenwood said in an interview this week. “Our preference would have been if the government, particularly the folks at [the National Institutes of Health], had done more of a qualitative analysis of the projects and rewarded those that they thought most promising in perhaps fewer, larger grants.”

    Here's hoping they get it right next time... If there is a next time.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
    May 27 9:12 PM | Link | Comment!
  • OncoSec Medical is one to watch

    Dr. Avtar Dhillon, M.D. is the co-founder, of OncoSec Medical Inc (OTCBB: ONCS).  Some of you may recognize Dr. Dhillon as the former President & Chief Executive Officer of Inovio Pharmaceuticals (AMEX:INO).

    Dhillon served at that company from 2001 through 2009 and he successfully led the turnaround of that firm through a restructuring, acquisition of technology from several European and North American companies, and a merger with VGX Pharmaceuticals. As we reported Wednesday, Inovio announced that its first quarter revenues had significantly increased (+$3.1 million, up from $1.4 million in the year-ago).

    Based in San Diego, California, this new company aims to improve the quality and performance of treatments for patients with all types of solid tumor cancers using "Precision Tumor Destruction" by using a combination of hardware and drugs (electro-chemical tumor ablation and electro-immunotherapy with DNA based cytokines).

    I ran into Dr. Dhillon at the recent Roth Investment Conference in Southern California and some of the results for his platform were impressive, particularly since the technology has already shown efficacy and strong safety profile in 400+ patients during clinical trials involving cutaneous (BCC, SCC, melanoma), head & neck, breast, prostate, and pancreatic tumors.

    OncoSec's innovative research and the advancement of a new “electro-oncology” therapy has obviously started to gain the attention of early investors as well. Yesterday the company announced the appointment of three members to its leadership team and while most of the markets were down, their stock continued to climb- albeit modestly. Not bad for a company whose name is not yet widely known.


    Formed earlier this year, OncoSec expects to initiate Phase II clinical trials for its tumor-destroying, tissue-sparing ElectroOncology therapies before the end of this year and we recommend that you watchlist the stock and learn more about their very interesting approach to selective killing of cancer cells while preserving healthy tissue.

    Chemical based ablation, unlike surgery, radio frequency ablation and cryotherapy that has the ability to selectively kill cancer. Studies demonstrate the therapy to be a safe, easy to use,
    economical and highly effective alternative to surgery and OncoSec’s plan is to maximize the likelihood of clinical and regulatory success.

    The platform's Improved cosmetic, functional and pain outcomes would be welcomed by patients who suffer from these types of tumors.

    While the company feels the near-term commercial potential is there for this ElectroOncology therapy, they will obviously have to fight for adoption within the oncology community. A minimal upfront investment for the equipment should help and a recurring sales model (single use disposable) component has been built into the revenue model. That should provide an on-going revenue stream to OncoSec.

    The technology enters the biotech trading space at Phase II for several cancer indications based on positive Phase I clinical data. Unlike other recently introduced biotech plays, the science has notched some early victories in the pipeline process, so some of the inherently early risk is off the table.

    The share structure and early valuation pricing also appears to point towards the possibility of a faster than normal uplisting to a larger exchange. Such a move would be welcome by institutions and funds already familiar with Dr. Dhillon's leadership track record who might want to also invest in his new venture.

    Some select slides from their investor presentation can be found below (click to enlarge).

    If you're interested in learning more, you can download the complete presentation from the BioMedReports research and reports section here: OncoSec Investor Presentation

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
    Tags: ONCS, INO
    May 12 4:32 AM | Link | Comment!
  • Regarding latest 8k filing by Radient Pharmaceuticals- $RPC

    The debt in question is one that AMEX officials would like to see converted to equity.

    Both the debt holders and RPC are and have been in discussions to make this happen, particularly given the positive developments which are on the horizon (official India payments, scientific study paper publication, two public spinoffs which RPC will have ownership in , etc). Everything is completely under control and there are several options on the table which are very friendly and beneficial to the company and their future.

    Of course, you can't expect that the tabloid would report this. How can they? Company management and their lawyers refuse to speak to them- especially with potential lawsuit(s) in the works. (Ask them if they've been put on notice if you think I'm making this up.)

    When it comes to the facts and demise of RPC, the bashers have not only been wrong, they've been completely wrong every step of the way. We are confident their histrionics and credibility dive will continue- especially as it relates to this matter.

    This bigger question for us is what they're going to say when this all plays out.

    Who do you think will look 'mentally challenged' then? 
    Tags: RXPC
    May 11 8:27 PM | Link | 31 Comments
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  • Hearing some interesting developments on the horizon for $NWBO. Did an article on them yesterday. Looks promising.
    Jul 12, 2011
  • ($RXPC.PK 3 of 3) If it were bad news, chances are they'd have something by now, since delisting decisions are usually handed down quickly.
    Apr 19, 2011
  • ($RXPC.PK 2 of 3) a listing extension would go until July [when the stock would have to be over $1 to continue being listed on Amex].
    Apr 19, 2011
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