There was a rather famous article that Forbes wrote two months ago talking about the multi-billion dollar company Samumed, started by 6 guys who all originally came from Turkey. The main guy they were talking about is Osman Kibar, who is a billionaire himself as well as a extremely proficient poker player. This guy has a rather extensive history. He went to school at Pamona College, than Caltech, and finally got his Ph. D. at UCSD, which I had the pleasure of dropping by just a few days ago. The article says that he started the company Genoptix while still in Graduate School, which Novartis eventually bought from his for around $400 Million. Not bad at all. Later on, a chance meeting with a old college buddy from school at the airport who worked at Greywolf Capital allowed Kibar to get about $3.5 Mil in funding. That led to Wintherix, which eventually became Samumed.
Apparently Samumed as calculated by the analysts at Forbes is apparently the most valuable biotechnology startup in the world already just based on hype and excitement. Will this be similar to Soon-Shiong’s Nantkwest, who is also started by a rather flamboyant billionaire who is looking to actually solve incredibly difficult biomedical related world problems? On the first glance, the similarities are there.
Without any approved drugs yet, it has already been valued at $6 Billion. Let’s keep in mind that the science and the mechanics on how the treatments work is not that secretive in some black box, unlike Theranos, which only recently was shown to have lied and falsified their claims. As for Elizabeth Holmes, her new net worth of $0 dollars reveals that one must be very cautious when it comes to venturing into the field of biotechnology entrepreneurship. I have personally worked at 2 startup companies who were trying to find treatments for HIV and Cancer (Prostate) and eventually both of those startups went down, due to the inability of the companies to show that their drugs efficacy. We have already talked extensively on the Wnt Pathway before on this website, but it might be worth it to go over the details at a later time. This pathway is one of the 3 main pathways which we have talked about before, which basically is the flow of proteins interacting with each other between the nucleus of a cell and the surface membrane of the cell. There is the canonical pathway, and the non-canonical pathways, as well as the integrated pathways, which as the name sounds, combines certain parts of of the canonical and the non-canonical. (What does the term “canon” mean? That is just another word for original, or general)
So far, the article in Forbes reveals that the R&D people at the company are currently working on 3 main types of biomedical applications.
- Baldness Treatment – SM04554
- Arthritis Treatment – SM04690
- Wrinkle Removal – Not stated in article
The treatment that has the biggest influence would definitely be the SM04690. In the article, it is said that over 27 million Americans suffer from arthritis and every year a supposed 700,000 people get replacements for their knees and another 300,000 get hip replacements.
In terms of the science, after the treatment of the SM04690, when the patients had their knees X-rayed it was found that the space between the femur and the tibia had increased, suggesting that the articular cartilage between the two bones might have regrown back.
This type of news be might not seem that important for us, since I have already written probably 20 articles before showing that thousands of researchers around the world are already working on getting the hyaline cartilage to regenerate to solve the problem of arthritis and osteoarthritis. It isn’t a bold claim to say that the entire goal of all of the Orthopedic Research being done in around the world is all for the goal of cartilage tissue regeneration.
Bone tissue regeneration and growth has already been successful multiple times over.
Here is the excerpt from the article which I have cut and copied below. This shows just how big the solution can be, just for solving the arthritis problem, which is so much easier.
The investor Finian Tan, is basically making this insane claim. If you can create just 1 millimeter of cartilage from a small, quick injection of whatever is the treatment (in Samumed’s case, it is their special formulation) you can create a company that is even bigger than Apple.
The last I checked, on June 16th, 2016, the value of Apple market cap is at $534 Billion. That is insane.
Just think about this for a minute. If you can create just 1 millimeter of cartilage from a simple injection, you will create a company that is worth more than half a trillion dollars.
Let’s remember something else here. We are not asking the Ph.Ds to create new growth plates here or reopen the growth plates. We are asking the scientists to regenerate the layer of hyaline cartilage that is on the ends of the femur and/or the tibia. That is it.
Yes, we realize that is still hard due to the intrinsic nature of cartilage, which don’t have any vascularization due to the SOX9 gene being expressed, which is actually a good thing. No vascularization means the necessary cells that are usually transported to a wound area for accumulation and wound closure quickly does not get to the wound area.
This arthritis problem is much, MUCH, MUCH easier to solve and figure out than the neo-epiphyseal problem, which is 100X harder, if not impossible, at least in our lifetime.