Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This time, our ongoing quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds us closer to a cure for HIV and looking for the next iPhone.
First up this week is Koronis Pharmaceuticals, which has created a drug that aims to mutate the HIV virus, thereby rendering it harmless.
If successful, KP-1461, as it's known, would make for a vast departure from current medical science. Why? Unlike protease inhibitors from Merck (NYSE: MRK ) , GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK ) , and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX ) , KP-1461 doesn't prevent the virus from replicating. It just, um, neuters the parent.
How? It accelerates mutation. I know that sounds dangerous. Experts say that's not the case, including Karl Thiel, my Rule Breakers teammate:
Slow viral mutation down enough, and the immune system finds it and wipes it out. Speed it up enough, and the viral genome just devolves into meaningless junk.
Simple manganese cations, for instance, have been found to increase the viral mutation rate of HIV -- the target Koronis is going after. Koronis is apparently using the same idea to make a useful drug. It's a rule-breaking approach, for sure!
Plus, it's friendlier to patients. Protease inhibitors, while effective, can increase cholesterol, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease. Who wants to beat one deadly disease by acquiring another?
Not venture investors. A group led by Pacific Horizon Ventures has bet $20 million on Koronis in a fourth round of financing, figuring that the 40,000 Americans who contract HIV each year will line up for a better treatment if one is made available. KP-1461, which will soon begin phase 2 trials, could be that treatment.
Next up is Mirics, which last year created a chip that could bring any form of radio or TV signal to a cell phone, and which this week earned $10 million in new funding from a group led by Intel's (Nasdaq: INTC ) venture capital arm.
Don't look so surprised. Baby Breaker MobiTV already makes TV-to-phone broadcasts available on Palm's Treo and devices powered by Windows Mobile. And with the runaway success of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone, there's bound to be more media made available in the coming years.
Well, maybe not. There are already five mobile TV "standards." Each varies in how it interprets and delivers data. Some are for analog signals, while others are digital. Radio isn't much better.
To handle the variety, Mirics' chip has one 'poly band' tuner that, according to trade publication RFDesign, acts as a "universal broadcast receiver" that can be programmed to handle any standard. And it can do the job without requiring enough power to turn a handset into a fireball.
Intrigued? So am I. Mobile TV probably isn't a must-have feature for all but the most cutting-edge consumers. But you know it's coming, and technology like Mirics' will be necessary if it's to be widely adopted. Put this one on your IPO watch list, Fool.
See you back here next time when we continue the quest to find the greatest growth.
For more Rule-Breaking Foolishness:
- Check in with our last litter of infants.
- Some growth stocks are unloved.
- Here's how to make millions in tech.
- Check on the latest list of top growth stocks.
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Palm is a Stock Advisor pick. Intel is an Inside Value recommendation.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 2,726 out of more than 50,000 participants in our Motley Fool CAPS investor-intelligence database, is a sucker for growth stocks and a contributor to the Rule Breakers team. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Tim's portfolio holdings can be found at his Fool profile. His thoughts on growth stocks, Foolishness, and investing in general may be found in his blog. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a rebel on Wall Street.