Doing Well By Doing Good
TUESDAY, JUL. 24, 2012 BY THE SUIT STAFF
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, half of all men and one-third of all women in the US will develop some form of cancer during their lifetimes. Yet a true cure for cancer remains elusive. Almost 70% of cancer cases worldwide are not curable.
Chet Billingsley, CEO of Mentor Capital Inc.,(OTCBB:MNTR) wants to change all that. According to Billingsley, the problem doesn’t lie in a lack of research or discovery – it’s a lack of funding to develop the discoveries that is slowing down the delivery of a cure. “There are plenty of good discoveries out there,” he said. “But between the hoped for sale to big pharma and that earlier discovery, in the industry it’s called – in sort of a macabre fashion – the Valley of Death. And the reason so many companies die is because of lack of funding in this gap.” Cancer research is usually well funded by government, university or non-profit organizations during its early stages. But, if a drug development company doesn’t complete the process of clearing FDA trials and selling this research as a product to a pharmaceutical company, the entire discovery is lost regardless of its potential value.
Mentor Capital steps in after a researcher’s discovery has been patented and helps fund his firm to complete the process of formal product testing and development. “What we try to do is [to] pick out the very best of the discoveries,” Billingsley said. “ Myself and others talk to the research team and ultimately I ascertain … whether their medical advance is real, if it’s going to make a difference, or if it’s just something that’s warmed over.” Billingsley then selects the most exceptional discoveries and Mentor Capital funds the rest of the development period, usually for one to five years.
In recent years cancer researchers have begun to change their overall approach to a cure. “It used to be, they would try to just poison the cancer,” Billingsley said. “The problem with that is, you are very much like the cancer – it’s very close. It’s like if you have a wart on your big toe, and we’ll try to give you enough poison until the wart dies.” A better approach now being funded is to use the body’s own immune system to attack and defeat the cancer cells as it does with bacterial infections. The danger of this approach, and a key factor Mentor Capital screens for, is that because cancer cells are so similar to healthy cells in appearance, the immune system might not stop with the damaged cells but could turn on the healthy cells as well, causing even more problems.
One new generation of research focuses on tagging the cancer cells so that they become distinct from the rest of the body. Then the patient’s own immune system can identify the cancer cells as intruders and kill them without harming healthy tissues. “Every now and then you hear of miraculous recoveries from cancer.Those miraculous recoveries are always because somehow, the immune system became aware of the cancer and … attacked it,” Billingsley said. “We’re trying to find and fund cancer fighting companies that can trigger the same type of miraculous recoveries whenever any of us is stricken with this deadly disease.”
Mentor Capital has continued to fund the development of the best of cancer research and discoveries during the economic downturn. “It is tougher now. A lot of people are feeling the pinch and they have lost some savings, their house is upside down or their business is not doing so well, so they can’t put up the ten or twenty thousand dollars that they historically have invested into the cancer field.” Billingsley explained. As a publicly owned company, Mentor Capital is able to acquire funds to invest in commercializing cancer research by acquiring a majority or investment interest in each of several privately owned cancer fighting companies. Other things being equal, these acquisitions raise Mentor Capital’s own value and that could cause an increase in its share price Mentor attempts to fund and pass on some of the benefits of public ownership and financing to the cancer companies, even though the research companies themselves are still privately owned.
In Mentor cancer funding program in progress on a new treatment for melanoma, Mentor Capital was able to step in and start to provide funding when the original source of capital dried up. “Melanoma looks like very bad acne boils, except they’re black. These people receive a melanoma vaccine and have been receiving it for seven years – 128 of them. And we’ve seen that when they receive the melanoma vaccine, the black boils recede like tetracycline given to an acne sufferer,” Billingsley said. ”It is a great reward to our shareholders to be able to help the cancer fight in the critical gap where help is needed, in addition to earning financial returns.”
For more information, please visit: www.mentorcapital.com.