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$20 on Red, $30 on Black, and $1000 on Biotech

If you enjoy betting your money at the Las Vegas poker tables and roulette wheels, then you might want to look into investing in biotech. Investing in a small or medium biotech is a lot like gambling in Sin City, says Robert Langreth on the Forbes Treatments blog. "You are either going to win big or lose big, and ... it is almost impossible to predict in advance what will happen," he says. Problems with side effects or a drug's effectiveness can wait until late in the development process to crop up, and they can mean the difference between the next blockbuster and a huge disaster, Langreth says. Not even big drug companies with experience in the field can predict what will happen. For example, he says, when Novartis came out with Gleevec to treat leukemia, it never figured on the drug becoming such a big seller. Investors, too, can't predict any of it, especially not what the FDA decides in many cases — the regulatory body's decision to send a drug back for more testing could mean that a rival drug from another company gets a leg up in the market. So, Langreth says, if you can't afford to lose everything you've invested in a biotech stock, then don't invest at all, because they are "extremely speculative and volatile investments." For every Gleevec, there are a dozen other drugs that never got off the ground, he adds.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.