Yesterday I was staring blankly at the giant screen in Agora Financial’s kitchen, which is always on mute and always playing BBC News 24, when I spotted something familiar. The banner at the bottom of the screen read IMMUNOTHERAPY BREAKTHROUGH.
Immunotherapy… I know that word!
They were interviewing Dr Alan Worsley from Cancer Research UK about the results of a big clinical trial.
Immunotherapy is a big deal. If they can make it work – and the early signs are promising – it could be a third weapon for fighting cancer, along with surgery and chemotherapy.
I’ve been learning about immunotherapy for the last two years or so through my work with Tom Bulford, the editor of Breakthrough Biotech Alert. Tom’s been tipping immunotherapy stocks for a while now. So if you’re of an investing bent and you want to buy into this story before it blows up in the mainstream, you should probably get your skates on.
I wrote about this topic back in the summer. Here’s what I said about it then.
Fixing the first line of defence
The immune system is the body’s first line of defence against disease.
White blood cells float around the body looking for foreign cells like viruses and bacteria. When they recognise a foreign cell, white blood cells attack and destroy it.
This is how the body fights disease.
But when it comes to cancer, the immune system is completely useless. That’s because cancer is not caused by harmful foreign cells, like the TB bacteria or the HIV virus. Cancer is caused by our own cells going haywire – either dividing too quickly or too slowly. White blood cells don’t attack cancer cells because they don’t recognise them as dangerous.
That’s the challenge: biotech researchers needed to convince white blood cells to attack cancer cells. Needless to say, that’s an insanely complicated job. But it looks like they’ve finally cracked it.
This is all great news. But what’s the investing angle?
Our inside man
Well, investors and the public often don’t pay a lot of attention to biotech. It’s a bit removed from everyday life. But the thing is, biotech is absolutely booming. This cancer study is just the tip of the iceberg.
Huge developments in biotechnology barely make a ripple outside of the industry – until three or four years later when the drugs pass their final trials, and the mainstream takes notice.
Tom Bulford is part of that world now. He’s been a professional fund manager of one kind or another for over 20 years, but in 2012 he made the decision to focus entirely on biotech. It’s worked out well. The last few years have been probably the most exciting time ever for biotech, and he’s been right in the thick of it.
… which brings us back to the cancer trials which hit the news last week.
Credit where it’s due…
Tom’s been way ahead of the curve on this. He first wrote about an immunotherapy breakthrough back in 2014. Here’s what he wrote back then:
“The treatment is known as Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy (CAR T-Cell, for short), and is a great illustration of the way in which… the body’s own immune system can beat cancer.
Last month Novartis announced the results of a study carried out with the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Thirty patients with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia were treated with immunotherapy, and 27 experienced complete remission – a stunning result.”
Tom doesn’t just report on biotech. He has discovered and tipped specific biotech companies which are working on the science of immunotherapy. And you can only find his research in Breakthrough Biotech Alert, his weekly newsletter.
Tom reckons cancer is losing the battle to modern biotech science. To learn about the companies that’re winning the fight, click here.
Breakthrough Biotech Alert is a regulated product issued by Fleet Street Publications Ltd. Your capital is at risk when you invest in shares, never risk more than you can afford to lose. Seek independent financial advice if necessary.