Is there a proliferating stem cell fake news issue in the biotech world?
More broadly, the SEC is cracking down on the mess that is fake biotech news, but how about fake news on stem cell biotechs more particularly? Already in the past year I’ ve seen examples of probable stem cell fake news.
Hyped pr campaigns (PR) that might arguably be in part fake news are usually nothing new and there has always been stock pumping, yet another more recent phenomenon consists of more extensive series of news-like pieces about publicly-traded companies from seemingly independent 3rd parties, generally extremely positive in tone. Certainly one of my Top 20 Predictions for Stem Tissue for 2017 was that fake stem cellular news would mushroom.
Are these artificial news? Standard pumping? Is there a difference? Something else entirely? Let’ s take a look at one case study.
Upbeat parts that are newsy in feel about one particular company, US Come Cell, Inc. ($USRM), a stem cell clinic company, have caught my eye this year. USRM, formerly called Bioheart, made news late last year in a way one may think investors would worry about as it was linked to the blinding of three of its customers. Even so, USRM stock has gone onto spike up. Around this same period of time I discovered an unusually large number of items popping up about USRM within the Google News Feed for various searches. You can see a current screenshot below of an example of a cluster of usually positive pieces on USRM earlier this month.
Since essentially all of these (and other similar ones over a longer period of time) evidently independent news-ish items on USRM were positive but not one mentioned the blinded patients, I wondered exactly how independent the news/investing outlets involved really were.
Could some of this be fake news?
The short answer is “ who knows? ”, but USRM and some other stem cell businesses recently have been the subjects of a large number of generally positive newsy items on the web. What’ s going on with USRM particularly? Is it just outperforming other stem cell biotechs with regards to legit PR and in other concrete ways?
Ms. Kristin Comella, CSO of USRM, did distribute a short paper prior to the beginning of the stock run up however it wasn’ t a breakthrough pub in my opinion. Is there some thing not widely known that is exciting investors and prompting each one of these media items? The company also announced a deal to spread out stem cell clinics in the Middle East and the “ reactivation status” of a trial by the FDA (not sure exactly what that will mean practically speaking for the company). Could all those be it?
Another item mentioned “ positive” financial results and there was some indication of new purchases in the firm. Does it all add up to a logical rationale to get a big stock price jump? Or are media affecting investors? Both?
As a side note, USRM announced with some fanfare its RMAT application to the FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION as mentioned in one of the pieces listed above in the Google results, yet no decision has been announced. What’ s the status quo? Could it have been rejected? More data requested? The particular turnaround time on the RMATs seems pretty fast usually.
What exactly are the specific news/financial Internet stores themselves that are running so many stories on USRM and perhaps other stem cell biotechs? They generally are not big, popular media kinds of sources. For instance, something called The Oracle Give, has run quite a few stories on USRM. When I examined, the Oracle Dispatch has 42 Twitter followers. Yeah, forty two, not 42K. A second media entity Street Register, that has 49 Twitter followers, also has positive newsy-looking posts upon USRM. A small Twitter following isn’ t necessarily a negative thing, but it is different than some well-known financial mass media outlets.
Insider Financial, which also submitted on USRM, has relatively more of a following using more than a thousand Twitter followers. Another two, Geneva Journal and Share News Union, are more of a mystery as I was not able to find anything concrete about them at all. Some more well known shops like Yahoo Finance have had pieces now and then on USRM too, but the sheer volume of pieces overall is just not some thing I’ ve seen with other stem cell biotechs with no blockbuster development and again nearly all these pieces are usually very cheery.
Even if this kind of things together is a case study of stem cell fake information, who’ s driving it? One of the tough things about bogus news is that you don’ t necessarily know the behind-the-scenes way to obtain it.
And let’ s say this particular isn’ t fake news, but rather is a case associated with investors simply being excited about a company’ s prospect of profit. What are the general implications? Could other currently personal stem cell businesses that directly market non-FDA authorized stem cells to consumers also go public? Ought to investors consider the risks to patients associated with the health procedures of such businesses? Is treating patients first then asking for FDA permission later (if at all) a suitable business model? Can a business sell non-FDA approved and possibly even arguably non-compliant stem cell interventions to individuals, collect data from that for-profit enterprise, and then change and use that data as a basis for an program to the FDA later with the potential to get an acceptance of an RMAT, etc .?
It’ s likely to get really interesting as we see how the FDA grips the 17 and counting RMAT applications that it offers reportedly received from diverse entities. It wouldn’ capital t surprise me if by the end of 2017 that it experienced three-dozen RMAT applications.
What do you think of all of this? Have you ever seen other examples of possible stem cell fake information or regenerative medicine fake news?