W. Gifford-Jones, MD —
This week, I mean not to be a financial advisor for penny stocks. For years I’ve followed Warren Buffet’s advice to purchase stock of quality companies. But if Sir Frederick Banting, the Canadian discoverer of insulin, knew what was happening in Canada, he’d roll over in his grave. So I purchased penny shares in a company to combat the loss of a momentous Canadian discovery into foreign hands. I also hope it will make a charity richer.
How luck plays a momentous role in our lives! In this case, just by chance, I met the President of Eastgate Biotech Corp. I learned this small company had been involved in an attempt to do what researchers around the world had failed to do. Namely, to develop an insulin pill that would relieve diabetes patients from the daily need of insulin injections to lower blood sugar.
This research has not been easy. Unfortunately, insulin in pill form that has been swallowed, is destroyed by the acidity of the stomach. To circumvent this problem researchers have tried several other routes, none of which has been successful.
Now, researchers at EastGate Biotech Corp, have successfully developed an insulin pill that slowly dissolves in the mouth and bypasses the acidity of the stomach. Human trials have shown it lowers blood sugar.
For the last 60 years I have written about the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, now a worldwide medical disaster. A report from the World Health Organization shows that, in North America, one in 14 people suffers from this disease. Equally frightening, one in 4 over the age of 65 has Type 2 diabetes.
Heart attack is still the number one killer in North America. But it will soon be overtaken by Type 2 diabetes. Why? Because diabetes patients have a 50 percent risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
But it is not just heart attacks that kill diabetes patients. Rather, the disease is notorious for causing atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) which delivers decreasing amounts of oxygenated blood to all human organs. This is why patients with narrow, hardened, arteries develop angina, causing pain in the chest.
Atherosclerosis is also why diabetes patients show an increased risk of loss of eyesight, kidney failure requiring renal dialysis or kidney transplant, or loss of legs due to gangrene.
So you can see why I was excited about the discovery of an oral insulin pill. It will mean better control of blood sugar, so vital to diabetics. And good sense dictates that patients will be more willing to use an oral pill, rather than daily needle injections.
So what has happened? Health Canada has met with Eastgate Biotech Corp to discuss the insulin pill. But to achieve final approval, additional human tests have to be carried out costing 10 million dollars. This company is now seeking funding from the U.S.
I asked Eastgate, “why the U.S.?” After all, it was Sir Frederick Banting at the University of Toronto who discovered insulin in 1922, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine. I’m well aware of the fame it brought Canada, as I worked one summer as a pre-med student at the Banting Institute. I saw international researchers coming to Toronto to study there.
It boggles my mind that the University of Toronto, or other medical facilities in Toronto, now known as a world-class medical center, doesn’t find some way to fund this research. Or, why the government that can find 300 million dollars annually to treat addicts, is unable to find 10 million dollars to make this monumental research a Canadian crowning discovery. Or, is there not one Canadian entrepreneur who has the vision to see how this could add to their own reputation? With the continuing epidemic of Type 2 diabetes it could also make them immensely wealthy.
Years ago my Foundation gave $500,000 to establish the Gifford-Jones Professorship in Pain Control and Palliative Care at the University of Toronto. So if my penny stock ever makes me wealthy, this Professorship will receive more funds to continue this good cause.
I wish I were a Rockefeller.