I’m writing from San Francisco after two frenzied days at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Every year more than 10,000 institutional investors and healthcare executives converge here to talk about companies, technology and the healthcare industry.
It’s without a doubt my largest source of trading ideas in the sector as I meet with CEOs, hedge fund managers and analysts nonstop from 8 a.m. until 9 or 10 at night.[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]Irrespective of the investment opportunities, I always come away from the week with optimism over the state of medicine and progress in the healthcare world.
It’s easy to feel hopeful after spending the day talking with brilliant and passionate scientists and learning about new drugs and technologies.
I haven’t had time yet to dig into the businesses of the companies below, but these are some of the more interesting medical advances that I’ve come across in the past 48 hours.
- TrovaGene (Nasdaq: TROV) – The maker of a new diagnostic that analyzes DNA in urine for biomarkers prevalent in cancer. It’s non-invasive and can be used repeatedly to determine whether a therapy is working. That way, a doctor and patient can effectively manage treatment in real time, with consistent monitoring in a way biopsies would never allow.
- AngioDynamics (Nasdaq: ANGO) – Offers various medical devices, but the most exciting is the NanoKnife, which is currently used off-label for prostate and pancreatic cancer. With the use of technology like this, which doesn’t harm normal tissue, patients are seeing outstanding results. Some advanced pancreatic cancer patients, who are usually given a short survival estimate, have lived for one or two years after treatment thanks to the NanoKnife.
- Affimed N.V. (Nasdaq: AFMD) – While most immunotherapies use T cells to kill cancer, Affimed uses NK cells. These are also immune system cells but often cause less severe side effects. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is providing financial assistance in the study of Affimed’s lead drug candidate.
- Ekso Bionics (OTC: EKSO) – Makes exoskeletons for stroke and spinal injury patients to enable them to walk. It also has military and industrial capabilities. I had particular interest in this technology because Investment U’s energy guru, David Fessler, uses it in his physical therapy and said it has been an important part of his recovery. (If you’re interested, Dave’s local paper ran a story about his progress with the Ekso bionic exoskeleton here.)
Additionally, I’ve met with many companies pursuing all kinds of immunotherapeutic agents in various cancers, as well as companies with new drugs to treat rare diseases.
I’ve always been a fan of rare disease companies because they typically treat disorders with such poor prognoses that new therapies make a very meaningful difference in people’s (often children) lives. Additionally, those drugs enjoy premium pricing, are very lucrative and – because the need is so dire – usually clear the regulatory process quickly.
By the time you read this, I’ll probably be in my eighth or ninth meeting of the day. I have lots of work to do when I get home. There is a ton of information to digest, information to follow up on, facts to confirm and valuations to analyze.
I already have more ideas I’m excited about than I had last year at this time. Keep an eye out throughout the year for more healthcare-related columns, many of which will have stemmed from the intelligence I gathered here over the past few days.
Source: Investment U