Ringing the Bell

Bell Tower Associates' Thoughts on Global Economics and Markets

Rethinking the Old Investment Rules

Is it time to start rethinking the old investment rules? A full 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account, and among millennials, a whopping 30% have zero dollars in a savings account. But if we are in the fight and saving, what do we when the central banks have made this the Age of the Borrower? Perhaps it’s time we took a page from The Lord of Rings and stopped listening to the old formulas of how to invest for retirement.

How about a New Investment Strategy? Stupidity.

Is it time for a little more stupidity in our investment strategies? After all, the intelligent course of action–waiting for the Fed to move–seems to be leading us in circles. In this week’s post, we take a look at the Federal Reserve, currency deals, the waiting game, Dostoevsky and, of course, relationship theory. The question: what do we do when the intelligent course of action isn’t working and the “smart” people never do what they say they will?

Novavax (NVAX): Respiratory Viruses and Nanoparticles

Many of the biotech firms we have focused on so far in this series have, as their primary goal, alleviating the symptoms of, or finding cures for, certain diseases and conditions. This week’s biotech focus, however, takes a different perspective: the idea of disease prevention through specific vaccination. The idea of vaccination is, of course, well-known and not particularly novel—the extent to which Novavax (NVAX) implements it, however, may prove to be.

Soligenix (SNGX): Ordering cancer cells to self-destruct

A few months ago, we briefly discussed new developments in the use of programmed cell death (or cell apoptosis) to combat cancer. Today we are going to take an in-depth look at one of the biotech companies involved in this fascinating realm, examine some of its prospects and probabilities for success, and offer a better understanding of just what it entails to convince a cancerous cell to shut itself down.The company is Soligenix (SNGX), and its pipeline specializes in cures for what are known as “rare and orphan” diseases, that, is diseases, including forms of cancer, that do not afflict large groups of people (relatively speaking) and thus are often difficult to find funding to cure.

ChemoCentryx and Combating Autoimmune Diseases

    One of the distinctions that we at BTA look for in analyzing biotechnology firms is between pipelines (as a reminder, a pipeline is a series of proposed drug candidates) that are all based off of a single system created by the company, and pipelines that involves a variety of different drugs based on entirely different technologies. ChemoCentryx (CCXI) fits into this former category, with an intriguing pipeline that, while jarring at first in its breadth, ultimately offers some interesting possibilities. An eye scan of their pipeline would make one assume that their plan is to tackle as many diseases as possible and solve them all. There is, however, a method behind what at first glance appears to be a chaotic pipeline: the chemoattractant system.  The science ChemoCentryx focuses its science on a single system or “discovery,” and they have developed numerous drug therapies around this discovery/system. Their targets are autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, the types of conditions that are the result of the immune system misdiagnosing the healthy cells of the body as foreign, unhealthy invaders. The body comes to “attack itself,” in a sense, and the symptoms of autoimmune diseases can be significant, ranging from chronic pain and inflammation to fatality in rare and/or “orphan” diseases (diseases that affect relatively few individuals and for which there is not a large market to create drug solutions). ChemoCentryx believes that a key to solving these diseases is to work on the chemoattractant system through the use of specially-designed chemokines. What is the chemoattractant system? The chemoattractant system is a form of chemotaxis, which is defined as the way...

Merrimack Pharmaceutical Taking on Pancreatic Cancer

This week’s Biotech Digest will focus exclusively on one biotech company and the unique opportunities its holds, which is the type of analysis that is offered in every issue of BTA’s Monthly Biotech Focus subscription newsletter. Our analysis goes from a thorough reading of the company’s product, market, potential, and probability of success.

Making Personal Health…Personal: A Look at mHealth

In this week’s feature, we are going to take a brief look at a category within biotechnology through the lenses of a familiar tech name, a small cap biotech firm, and a new discovery out of King’s College in London. In the process, we’ll not only obtain a glimpse of what lies in store in the future, we’ll also see some of the possible ways of utilizing this new technology.

Mimicry and Antibiotics: Copying the Immune System to Attack Bacteria

There are new ways that scientists and biotechnology companies are beginning to combat drug-resistant bacterial strains, as well as prepare for the possibility of future bacteria that may become resistant to current drugs. These take two forms that we’re talk about today: the capability to determine rapidly if and when an antibiotic has ceased to work because the bacteria are resistant, and the ability to combat bacterial infections with methods other than antibacterial drugs, such as mimicking the human body’s own responses.

Battling Cancer with Life and Death—of Cells

In this week’s spotlight, we’re going to take a look at two different methods that are coming to the forefront of the battle against cancer: immune-oncology and cell apoptosis. If these names sound as confusing to you as they do to us, don’t worry; these technologies are actually much easier to wrap your mind around that you might at first think. The two companies we are also going to mention today come from each end of the size spectrum for biotech: one is AbbVie (ABBV), a large, well-known name, while the other is the much smaller Soligenix (SNGX), which we are following here at BTA.

Strange Bedfellows: Big Data and Fashion

Not unlike watching a Rex Ryan defense, there are times when we, as citizens, just have no clue what is going on. The headlines lately are surrounding Macy’s and Nordstrom, the faces of the big retailers who aren’t performing as well as they have in the past. Reports are circulating of drops in the stock market prices of large retailers following the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Consumer confidence declined in both October and November, according to the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI).