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Advanced Cell Technology $ACTC – Important To Watch This Week

Posted in ACTC, Advanced Cell Technology, Biotechnology, Blastomere, Hemangioblast, hESC, IPS, MSC, NED hESC, OCATA, Platelet, RNP, Robert Lanza, RPE, Science, Stem Cell Technology, Synthetic Biology, Technology on November 9th, 2014

I’ve been offline for a while, but thought I’d come out of “semi-retirement”, in terms of blogging, to mention that this company is about to begin what I think will be a hugely important march forward in medicine in the coming months and next few years, across this segment (not just ACT, but in many areas of regenerative medicine). I’ve always blogged about science and particularly synthetic biology, but not so much stem cell technology. The field is poised to take-off, in my view, with lots of exciting new trials and news pending from many directions. ACT will start this week, and in coming days, after pending events including a conference call on Monday, an Annual Shareholder’s Meeting and proxy vote on Wednesday and then culminating into some key developments for the company. The end result will be an anticipated uplist to NASDAQ, very shortly, and completion of Phase I/II on their RPE related trials. An expanded Phase II/III trial is anticipated to start very shortly thereafter.

I’ve been invested in ACTC for a few years now though and I have incredible respect for the Chief Scientist, Dr. Robert Lanza and his entire team there. They’ve done incredible work, which most of the world is copying relentlessly (late), though they have very good patents that should protect them for a while yet. Their recent results from their RPE trials, as reported in the Lancet (check out the authors and what institutions are affiliated with these trials / See also WSJ), and their animal testing, which has tended to hold up in other cases in humans, seems very encouraging. Stem cells are more akin, in my view, to cellular transplant, instead of organ transplantation, so where the cellular TYPE is the same as what is being replaced, where the cells give benefit over a long period, without tumors or negative consequences, I suspect, the treatments will be highly repeatable, scalable and extremely powerful as a treatment option. ACT’s cells can be manufactured at an industrial scale, and the retinal diseases they are going after first are large, and have no effective means of alternative treatment. The retina is also immunoprivileged as a site, which means it is insulated from the immune system, so matching tissue is not as critical as say it would be for a kidney, liver or heart. So far, the results are bearing that out quite well, and with unprecedentedly good results for the patients treated so far, though we will know more as the trials continue.

ACT’s proposed cellular applications are scalable, replicable, and extremely valuable, and they can be improved upon with patented technology already in ACT’s labs. There are, for instance, over 200 different diseases of the retina, some of which no doubt these cells may also be used to treat. Also, the company is working on variations on these cells, adding beneficial qualities, but also on precursor cells, they have created additional end application cells. For instance, ACT has developed Retinal Neural Progenitor cells RNP’s and/or Photoreceptor Progenitor Cells, Corneal Cell sheets for transplat, extremely potent Mesenchymal cells and scalable technologies for blood products that could lead to many products, but will initially focus on generation of platelets, likely from Induced Pluripotent Cells (IPS technology). Most of the company’s patents allow for use of any type of pluripotent cell technology, from IPS to NED (No Embryo Destroyed) hESC technology. They have a patent on the NED technology which allows them to create just a few stem cell LINES from which all treatments can originate thereafter. So access to embryos is not a critical issue given existing usable stem cell lines for access to very large markets, even for hESC technologies. However, it is also apparent that, in some instances, ACT’s cells are particularly potent, even in comparison to other hESC derived cells, perhaps because of the way in which their cells have been derived from an earlier stage embryo by the single blastomere biopsy method, which I will get to momentarily.

Here is some information to get you started. Be sure to follow this company, and if you’re so inclined, it’s a highly risky investment, but has incredible potential to create incredible amounts of value, long-term, as well. In the mean time, it remains incredibly volatile and should not be traded, in my opinion. I have consistently bought when its price is low, and negative sentiment is high. Constant due diligence is necessary, as all of the normal high risk factors, for a company at this stage and in this industry, apply here. I recommend that any investor consult the SEC database link below and read all of the company’s disclosures for the range of reasonable risk factors.
Google Finance: ACTC
Wikipedia – Robert Lanza
Dr. Lanza’s Personal Site
Advanced Cell: Scientific Papers
SEC Edgar Database: Advanced Cell Technology, Inc.
Here is a brief discussion of some of ACT’s technologies

One thing stories in the media continuously get incorrect, and repeat out of what I can only describe as either laziness or being on automatic pilot, is the notion that each treatment requires the destruction of an embryo. This just perpetuates incredible ignorance, and I often cannot believe which media and reporters are most guilty of this repeated misreporting. Even with ordinary hESC’s (embryonic stem cells), a LINE of cells (which can be used thereafter indefinitely, for virtually unlimited numbers of doses) is created from to be discarded embryos that couples seeking IVF, no longer need anymore, and have never been inside of a womb and never will be in a womb. Once a “Line” of cells has been created from a single embryo, those cells can be used in many applications, virtually forever, without going back to another embryo. Using traditional methods, the to be discarded embryo is, instead of being thrown away, used to create a line and the embryo will no longer be viable for implant, but the individual cells can be turned into a Line of cells that can become any cell in a human body, and that can be preserved for treatments of unlimited human beings.

However, ACT’s hESC’s are generated using a non-destructuve technology (blastomere technology) in which only one cell is taken, from a very early stage embryo (4-8 cells total). This single cell extraction was an adaptation of a TEST that most embryos are put through, before they are actually implanted, in order to test them. Couples go through a lot to do IVF, so they of course put in embryos that are healthy. ACT’s blastomere method, which right now has only created one line that has been used in humans does not require destruction of an embryo, though ACT did not keep frozen, forever, the embryo from which its current hESC stem cell line was derived. However, ACT can create multiple lines of cells, and preserve or even return the embryo to the family for implantation afterwards, while the line of cells continues, indefinitely, generating unlimited cells for treatments and research on diseases and treatments in humans. Think of it like an embryonic donation of cells, agreed to by the parental creators of the embryos. I believe the company intends to keep embryos it uses “safe” going forward (though they will have to get parental consent, and parents who donate them may not want their 4-8 cell embryos kept indefinitely, and may prefer their destruction, I would expect), if it ever decides to create a new line of cells in the future (which it may or may not do). However, ACT is also working now with IPS cells, and most of their patents allow for them to create their end point cells from any pluripotent source of cells, so they continue to have a flexible platform from which they can continue to innovate as the technology develops.

Many in the media falsely propagate the notion, no doubt unintentionally, that an embryo is destroyed for each treatment, or regularly, to generate cells for treatment. This is flatly untrue. In the case of ACT, all treatments so far have been generated from one single embryo, and they can continue to generate their treatments from that one embryo for unlimited numbers of patients. Most journalists don’t say it, but they fail to clarify the notion of what a stem cell line is, and they leave the concept to people’s imaginations. By flagging “ethics issue”, and stating it ominously, without full clarification or a link at least to better information, they often propagate mythology and false notions rather than science. This means that the field of stem cell science is not as well understood as the broad reporting would suggest.

ACT’s Platelets will be capable of being generated from both IPS (Induced Pluripotent Cells) and it’s NED hESC’s. I believe, however, that the initial plan is to generate them from IPS cells (See, . IPS cells are pluripotent cells generated from adult skin cells, which are then converted into an embryonic state through various technologies.

There appears to be a concerted effort to short this company’s equity which should be noted, and also what appears to me to be a conscious effort to manipulate the price. In my opinion, the more such articles one sees trying to scare investors, given the recent results and science/patents this company has, the more bullish the opportunity in the long-term. It takes a careful effort to knock an obscure stock like this constantly, and there is a dedicated message board and blogger community, that seems to have hedge fund support, engaged in this effort, in my opinion. That means that the stock has been available at exceedingly undervalued prices on an ongoing basis and, in my opinion, ongoing steady accumulation (if it continues to be undervalued) would be a reasonable response to such efforts. I’m not a financial advisor, this is just my opinion as an observer and an investor. I’ve had a long-term and ongoing position in ACTC for a few years now and have continued to accumulate on an ongoing basis. I have received no consideration for posting this article. This is just my personal opinion as a long holder and investor.

Elevation Partners Director and Co-Founder Roger McNamee on What’s Next

Posted in Advertising, Android, Apple Computers, Apps, Computers, Futurist Predictions, Google, HTML5, Internet, iPhone, Mac OS X, Marketing, Media, Microsoft, Mobile Apps, Nature of Social Networks, Smart Phones, Technology, Venture Funding, Video Blog on July 25th, 2011

If you don’t have time to watch the video below, read this summary now.  It’s well worth the investment of your time. This is visionary.


Two Camera Views: A Crazy Italian Packers Fan In The Best Superbowl 2011 Fan Story

Posted in Humor, Media, Miscellaneous, Symbolism, Video Blog on February 12th, 2011

Crazy Italian Packers fan celebrates on the Super Bowl field – Shutdown Corner – NFL  – Yahoo! Sports.

The above story tells all of the fantastic details of this incredible “crazy  Green Bay Packers’ fan” story.  But here are the two Camera Angles you need to view to really get this story, and not with jaded view, discount it as some stunt.  It appears to have been a real coincidence and this gentleman leads a charmed life, apparently.

1.  Gio (the fan’s) camera (view at minutes 3:00-3:15):

2.  The Aaron Rodgers’ Disney commercial (Gio is in the last angle of Rodgers):

In the video by Gio, be sure to watch between 3:00 and 3:15 and you will clearly hear Aaron Rodgers giving the line for the Disney Commercial.  One view is chaotic fan insanity, the other is strangely, amusingly ordered.  Enjoy!


Jobs Takes Leave at Apple Again, Stirring Questions –

Posted in Apple Computers on January 18th, 2011

Jobs Takes Leave at Apple Again, Stirring Questions –  I have to admit that I read this article filled with concern for and well wishes to Mr. Jobs, his family and to Apple.  I hope this is a part of a therapeutic break that he is taking to get his health fully on track and that he will be back as soon as he is feeling up to it.


Magazines Pursue Tablets, but iPad Limits Subscriptions –

Posted in Apple Computers on January 17th, 2011

Magazines Pursue Tablets, but iPad Limits Subscriptions –  
I think this article really gets at a substantial criticism of Apple, especially with regard to the iPad, which is widely perceived as a product meant to deliver mostly only consumable items.  In this context, the impression that magazine publishers appear to be dissatisfied with Apple’s model, for this platform, is very telling.  I don’t think this is similar to the music industry’s dissatisfaction at all. These are very different issues, much more complex and nuanced, and I don’t think Apple can expect to control this entire transaction reasonably. Even in that instance, the big hurdle to having a legal market for digital purchases of music was the industry itself. I’m not sure this is the case in magazine publishing. What would really be impressive is if Apple created an infrastructure that allowed anyone to publish a newspaper or magazine. That might not jibe with the publishers, but that would be worthwhile. In the mean time though, I think Apple’s limitations and heavy hand may be undermining its own product and the credibility it brought to the negotiations at the beginning.

My impression on the iPad is consistent with most of what I know about owners of the iPad, who are all delighted with the general idea and Apple’s implementation, but not all are happy with the limitations imposed upon the device from a users’ perspective. I bought one as a gift, but I have not yet bought one for myself for these very reasons. Apple needs to allow more realistic usage of the device, and not be so controlled. It’s not making anyone happy in that context, and sooner or later, that strategy will backfire.

I expect that the Android tablets should shake things up and will be a welcome addition to the evolution of this market. Google’s advertising model should also bring instant revenues as well, for publishers.  In this instance, I think competition from Android will improve the entire space. This is a space that Apple almost, again, single-handedly created, but it is very possible, after some time, that they will flub this one. Not to mention that, News Corp is a questionable company to make the center of the new subscription strategy, for the obvious reason that many Apple users, I predict, will be hesitant to subscribe to a News Corp product, even for one dollar.


Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Leaders of the Nation’s Medical Schools Protest Stem Cell Ruling

Posted in Biotechnology, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Health care, Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Law, Law Links, Policy, Public Policy Debate, Regulation, Science, Society, Technology on September 2nd, 2010

A diverse group of top scholars at the nation’s leading medical schools is appealing to Congress to pass legislation that ensures continued federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research under the NIH’s current rigoorous and ethical guidelines.  They are appealing to be allowed, with immediate effect, to resume the many research projects that have been put on hold, and possibly destroyed, by the results of the recent court ruling.

Click here to review the statement and signatories.


Should Other Parties of Interest Motion to Intervene In Embryonic Court Case?

Posted in Biotechnology, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Health care, Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Law, Law Links, Politics, Privacy, Public Policy Debate, Regulation, Science, Society, Tech Links, Technology, Uncategorized on August 31st, 2010

I’m curious if anyone has any opinions on this.  Please send me a direct twitter message if you know of anyone contemplating intervention.  I’m curious why various interested parties, including States Attorney Generals, on behalf of state universities that benefit from funded research, are not seeking to intervene on this issue? Surely various universities, companies and foundations are affected just as much as Dr. James Shereley, the plaintiff in the case.  Surely these groups could come together and file a common motion to intervene?  What about interest groups related to various diseases that may be cured by means of human embryonic stem cells?  I’m not a litigator, but it seems like a means to add some more color for the judge to consider.

This is my personal opinion, but I think the judge’s ruling in this case showed very little understanding of the real stakes, and suggest that he took plaintiff’s claims about the relative states of viability of Human embryonic stem cell (“hESC”) research versus adult stem cell research at their face value rather than allowing the case to be heard before making a preliminary ruling with disastrous results for many people, institutions and potential patients.

Motions to intervene in Federal Court fall under Federal Rules of Procedure Rule 24.

I suspect that the judge, in this case, would have been less free to make such an overreaching preliminary injunction accepting virtually all of the arguments of the plaintiff, had other interests aggressively intervened.  I’ve wondered at the passiveness of the many communities that are potentially impacted by the ruling.  Where are they?  I know they are out there.  But why are they so dependent upon this legislator or that President or this agency to represent their interests?  Perhaps they are less accustomed to being activists in the interests of their fields of research or themselves than other very politicized and active interests?  The best person to represent one’s interest is oneself.  That’s the nature of democracy.  Liberty doesn’t come free.  There will always be people on another side of an issue, with passion. When both sides are represented, courts can better reach equitable results.

I worry that, to some degree, my sense of the Judge’s failing, may ultimately be due to the failing of the many parties in interest failing to represent themselves well and failing to develop vocabulary that represents what they do morally and equitably.

The pro-hESC research community has accepted the vocabulary of the interests that are opposed to hESC research, and many pro-hESC researchers, while more than adequate at this kind of debate when you hear them in the media, often still find themselves repeating the points of opposition advocates, without challenging the phrasing or the vocabulary of a certain question or presentation of what the research entails.  The advocates need to work on articulating better, what it is they actually do, and not accepting an anti-stem cell vocabulary thrust upon them that creates a picture that is, from what my research tells me, a false picture.  The media is guilty of this as well, often using the vocabulary of those opposed, to describe a process in a manner that is fundamentally inaccurate.  Note that the New York Times has still not corrected the error in its article that embryonic stem cell research is now “illegal”, as referenced in my posting of a few days ago.  How is that possible?  It’s a major publication, posting a fundamentally wrong “fact” without correction. If the error were in the opposite direction, the anti-hESC crowd would have been on that in an instant, and the error would’ve already been corrected.


Embryonic Stem Cells: US DOJ Files Emergency Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal

Posted in Biotechnology, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Health care, Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Law, Law Links, Legal Research, Legislation, Policy, Politics, Privacy, Public Policy Debate, Regulation, Science, Society, Tech Links, Technology on August 31st, 2010

The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has filed an emergency motion to stay the preliminary injunction, pending appeal and an expedited briefing and consideration.  You can find the links to the filings here:

  1. US DOJ Defendants’ Emergency Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction relating to human embryonic stem cells
  2. US DOJ Notice of Appeal, James L. Sherley, et al vs. Kathleen Sebelius, in her official capacity as Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, et al.


Shocking Stem Cell Ruling Throws U.S. Scientific Community Into Disarray

Posted in Biotechnology, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Health care, Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Law, Law Links, Legislation, Liberty, Litigation, Media, Policy, Politics, Public Policy Debate, Science, Society, Synthetic Biology, Tech Links, Technology on August 24th, 2010

Reading this opinion, and being very well versed in the science of stem cells, let me say that I’m shocked at the ignorance of the judge in this case.  His factual statements are so far off and so wildly inaccurate as to show, in my opinion, quite a bit of reckless disregard for the impact of his decision, if such a thing is possible in the exercise of judicial powers.

Hopefully, and I’m not a litigator, this can be addressed on appeal.  But the fates of many people are tied up in this, in profound ways that this judge appears to not really have fully understood.  Perhaps the NIH, in approaching the litigation, did not approach it with appropriate zeal.  I think anyone in stem cell research who didn’t try to intercede in this case, should be joining together now in the appeal process for the injunction and thereafter.  Major efforts to lobby Congress probably also have to get into high gear.

You can read the decision, here.

By the way, some of the media are reporting that the decision makes stem cell research illegal.  I came across this in my brief review of the comments for the New York Times story.  This appears to be part of an unfortunate tendency to misreport on the subject of Human Embryonic Stem Cell (“hESC”) research.  The ruling makes the NIH policy, stemming from President Bush’s first decision to provide some funding to stem cells, through Obama’s executive order, illegal.  That means that Federal Funding for research that destroys, discards, or knowingly subjects embryos to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for fetuses in utero under federal law is prohibited.  It doesn’t mean the research is illegal itself.

For an example of an incorrect article, see The New York Times:

For scientists, the problem with the judge’s reasoning is that it may render all scientific work regarding embryonic stem cells illegal — including work allowed under the more restrictive policy adopted by President George W. Bush in 2001.

I think this is a case where a journalist misheard the point of a lawyer perhaps.  The ruling affects Federal Funding for ALL scientific work regarding embryonic stem cells… it doesn’t make the research illegal.  The judge is certainly wrong about the impact of his own decision, which will possibly be embarrassing even to him, when he eventually realizes it.  However, the NYTimes, in recognizing that the judge got it terribly wrong, takes it too far as well.  It’s shocking how many sources get this stuff wrong.

One additional note, the pending NIH approval of a proposed change to the definition of stem cells may yet also have an impact in the context of hESCs.  Stay tuned.


Culture Networks: Understanding the Culture Code

Posted in Advertising, Business, Entertaining, Futurist Predictions, Futurist Predictions, Internet, Marketing, Media, Nature of Social Networks, Science, Society, Technology, Trademark, Video Blog on August 15th, 2010

In the context of my previous posting of the Culture Networks 2010 presentation, Clotaire Rapaille, is referenced quite frequently. (If you haven’t gone through that fascinating presentation, please do so now.) As a general primer on social network science and study, please see Wikipedia: Social Network.

Clotaire Rapaille is more about the organic nature of our ideas and thought processes. Apparently he developed his key ideas about marketing from, according to wikipedia, his work

as a psychologist for autistic children and studying Konrad Lorentz theory of Imprints and John Bowlby theory of attachment. This work led him to believe that while children learn a given word and the idea connected with it, they associate it with certain emotions. He called that primal emotional association an imprint. This imprint determines our attitude towards a particular thing. These pooled individual imprints make up a collective cultural unconscious, which unconsciously pre-organize and influence the behavior of a culture.

So I thought it might be worthwhile to drill down a bit into his concepts, and the easiest way to do that was to reference this fascinating 2004 episode of Frontline, called “The Persuaders”. I don’t claim Rapaille is necessary or relevant to the social network concepts, but I did find quotations from his book in the presentation both fascinating and compelling enough to want to know more. It may be that his ideas are potent via the evolution of modern social networks and the shrinkage of distance as a meaningful barrier to the transport of ideas, among people and cultures. The focus of Rapaille’s efforts is on why people do what they do, not on what they say are the reasons for their actions. In the context of understanding Social Networks, this distinction is very useful.

The review on Amazon is not encouraging, but the book has sold very well, so that review may not be an indicator of anything. The ideas are worthy of understanding. And since he was quoted quite a bit in the presentation, I’m thinking, why not spend a little time contemplating what his ideas are about? Honestly, I may buy his book to get a better sense, after I’ve done this bit of research.

Check out Clotaire Rapaille’s book The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do.

Below is a short video segment, on Rapaille, from the PBS Frontline report on modern marketing called “The Persuaders”. Only a small segment is about Rapaille:

After you’ve watched the above segment which comes midway into the program, you may want to click HERE to view the program from the beginning.

The complete program offers a fascinating insight into how advertising influences us, in many ways. The discussion on media embedded advertising, of which we very likely are often unaware, was both interesting and a bit troubling. I thought the segment on Sex and the City, and the Absolut Hunk episode, was amusing, for instance. But I also found myself disquieted by the discussion. I do often enjoy advertising as entertainment, but the suffusion of advertising throughout our culture and daily experiences appears to be driving culture and meaning in ways that undermine our sense of self and our well-being. In those moments of revelation, it might not be an exaggeration to feel like culture, where it may have once been life affirming, is dead (or dying) and commerce, the usurper king of our competitive social drives, may destroy us with all of the junk of our basest wants and puerile emotional needs.

On the other hand, given the presentation on Culture Networks, to some degree, perhaps less overt and obvious, all of our communications via commercial networks have been evolving toward this ultimate revelation: Commercial memes are taking over the evolution of our very notions of culture and society. If you don’t have some time to watch the above videos, honestly, the more interesting thing to do first, is to go through the Culture Networks presentation.