If you’re looking to double your money, the biotech sector is one of the best hunting grounds that you’ll find.
So far this year, for instance, the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NASDAQ: IBB) – an ETF that’s a great proxy for the sector – has zoomed 28.2%, more than double the 13.59% SPDR S&P 500 Index ETF (NYSEArca: SPY). The IBB gained 31% last year. And a lot of individual biotech stocks have actually doubled, tripled or more – the Holy-Grail type of gains that high-tech investors crave.
My Dad, Clarence “Rob” Robinson, has always been a very tough guy.
He played football in high school, and then again as a U.S. Marine. During a game at Camp Pendleton, an injury put his right knee in a cast. Later, while fighting in Vietnam, his left knee was wounded.
But he refused to let the injuries slow him down.
Now, however, as he approaches his 80th birthday, my Dad has to take action. Next month, he goes in for a knee replacement.
It’s become a pretty common procedure, so I’m not worried about the surgery itself.
But I am a bit concerned about “Super Bugs.”
You know what I’m talking about. Drug-resistant Super Bugs are afflicting hospitals, clinics and patients all across the country.
In fact, I’ll wager that you know of a family member, friend or co-worker who’s dealt with this scary – even terrifying – malady.
I was a hard-working journalist in the early 1990s – and the whole Human Genome effort was transforming biotechnology into front-page news – when the Oakland Tribune offered me a job as a financial writer.
When the editor explained that biotechnology would be one of my “beats” … well, I jumped at the chance.
It was one of the best career decisions I ever made.
Biotech was an exciting beat to work … and that was an exciting time to work it. So I immersed myself in my assignments. And that meant that I talked at length with patients, company executives, industry analysts, financiers, top researchers, and senior officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency that approves all new drugs sold in the United States.
A five-part series that I produced about a pioneering therapy for multiple sclerosis generated a lot of accolades and was one of my favorite achievements from the four years I spent on the biotech beat.
But the real benefit was in the insights that I gained, and the lessons I learned.
They’ve paid off for me in a big way through the years.
Imagine a future in which anyone needing a transplant could just create the needed tissue on their home printer.
That day hasn’t arrived yet … but it’s getting closer all the time.
A partnership between a global software firm and an early-stage biotech player is already promising to transform the field of medical transplants.
And for many patients, that day can’t get here soon enough.
Each year here in the U.S. alone more than a million people need some type of new tissue. We’re taking everything from heart valves, to corneas for the eyes, to entire hearts and kidneys.
Though we’ve made huge strides in transplant technology, the sheer number of transplant candidates remains huge – resulting in a bottleneck that’s all too often fatal. Each year, more than 6,500 people die while waiting for a donated organ – the equivalent of 18 a day.
In our advanced age of medicine, that’s 18 too many.
In the very near future, however, doctors may simply “print” the tissues or organs you need to regain your good health. That’s the ultimate goal of a cutting-edge field known as 3D “bioprinting.”
As a teen growing up in the 1970s, I was a fan of the popular TV show The Six Million Man, and often dreamed of being a real-life version of Steve Austin, the world’s original bionic being.
For millions of us, that dream may soon come true.
Austin, you’ll no doubt recall, was the bigger-than-life main character of the long-running drama. The former astronaut was battered in a horrid test-flight crash (“I can’t hold her … she’s breaking up, she’s breaking up!”) and was expected to die. But doctors not only saved Austin’s life … they decided they could “rebuild him” by using bionic implants.
And those high-tech devices boosted Austin’s speed, strength and vision far beyond human levels.
Now a global research team is reporting great progress in building a lab-created being.
The flu has made its annual visit to the U.S., reacquainting itself with your kids, spouse, parents, friends and co-workers. But this strain has been especially nasty, resulting in shortages of the very vaccines that might have moderated its effects.
One of my colleagues here – an editor with a young son – finally got his just last week – only because he stubbornly went to the same Rite-Aid every single morning for an entire week.
I’m sure you have similar stories you could share.
When you think about it, this year’s flu season illustrates one of the great ironies of our time. Although advances in medical technology have enabled us to create the vaccines that so far have kept the yearly viral visit in check, the reality is that those advances have been leapfrogged by global travel, an advancement that makes a pandemic more likely than ever before.
Fortunately, there is an answer – an innovation worthy of the Era of Radical Change, and one that savvy investors can play for windfall profits. I’m going to show you four ways to grab those profits for yourself.
But first we need to really understand the challenge at hand.
Of all the concerts I went to in my younger days, a Ramones performance I attended at the historic Fillmore auditorium more than 20 years ago is the one I remember the best.
I remember it so well because I couldn’t hear for three days.
As a musician, the experience gave me an indescribable scare; though I attended more concerts, I’d learned my lesson and promised to never let that happen again.
But others haven’t been so lucky.
Two decades later, volume-related hearing loss is one of the few bridges spanning the so-called “digital divide” – the gulf that separates Baby Boomers like me from the smartphone-savvy Millennials that are half our age. For older adults, too much loud music at rock concerts is a common cause. For our younger “Generation Y” counterparts, it’s the “ear-bud” headphones that blast music from iPods or other mobile devices.