Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Second Sight Medical Products (NASDAQ:EYES) saw its shares rise by a stately 15% today on tremendous volume after announcing the first successful implant of a model of its next-generation device for the visually impaired called Orion I. The Orion I prototype was implanted in an animal as part of a pre-clinical study assessing the device's fit, form, and biocompatibility, according to the press release.
The study should last until the end of the year and marks a major milestone in the company's plans to move past its Argus II visual prosthesis, currently approved for use in patients afflicted with late-stage retinis pigmentosa.
So what: In theory, Orion I would directly stimulate the visual centers of the brain, making it a huge leap forward from the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis system. More importantly, though, the device, if all goes according to plan, might become a therapeutic option for nearly all forms of blindness, meaning that its commercial potential should be demonstrably higher than its predecessors.
Now what: Second Sight plans on building fully functional prototypes of Orion I by year's end and begin testing in animals by the first-quarter of 2016. If this pre-clinical study pans out, the company is hoping to begin an early stage clinical trial in humans by 2017.
While this is great news for the visually impaired and shows that the company is making good progress on this next-gen system, I think investors may want to take keep their emotions in check over the launch of a pre-clinical study. After all, Second Sight isn't expected to become cash flow positive based on sales of its Argus II device, and Orion I is only now beginning the multi-year process of clinical testing necessary prior to a regulatory submission.