Two dreams that just won’t die

Two dreams that just won’t die

It seems since the beginning of time there are two dreams that just won’t die; one being the never ending quest to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor and the other being the Chicago Cubs actually winning a World Series. Given that it has been over 100 years since the Cubs have won the World Series and it seems like it’s been 100 years since companies have been trying to develop a non-invasive glucose monitor; Diabetic Investor has begun to wonder which will happen first.


While this may seem a little out of left field, the two situations actually have much in common. For years the Cubbies played all their home games in the daylight while the rest of the league preferred night games. It wasn’t until the 80’s when these lovable losers caught up with the rest of the league and installed lights at the beer garden they like to call Wrigley Field. Over the years the Cubs have come oh so close with several notable and now famous failures- the collapse of 69, the Marlins comeback being down 3-1 and most recently being swept out of the playoffs two years in a row. Things are so bad on the North Side of Chicago; Cub fans believe their team has been cursed.


The situation in non-invasive glucose monitoring isn’t all that different. Like the Cubbies, companies have been trying for years to develop a system that actually works. Also like the Cubs, they have tried every technology under the sun and spent millions of dollars in their quest. Yet for all the money spent and effort expanded we still don’t have a commercially viable non-invasive glucose monitor.


Perhaps the biggest similarity between the Cubs and non-invasive glucose monitoring is that no matter how many times they have experienced failure there are always people who believe that next year will be the year and the success they have been waiting for will finally be realized. Just as millions of fans pack Wrigley each year, investors continue to pour millions of dollars into companies developing non-invasive glucose monitoring systems. It does not seem to matter how much pain and suffering these people experience year in and year out, they come back again and again only to experience more disappointment.


Diabetic Investor was reminded of these similarities when we came across a company called PositiveID (NASDAQ:PSID), who recently announced they were working a non-invasive system that measures glucose from a patients breathe. According to the company the patient breathes into a device similar to a breathalyzer which contains a special microchip which calculates the glucose value. This special microchip comes from a company called Receptors LLC™ who has written a white paper on how their chip works. (You can find the white paper on their web site


Given this is developmental stage product it is too early to say that PositiveID will end up as another company who has tried and failed.  However given the long and notable list of failures in this space Diabetic Investor, pardon the play on words, is not holding our breath. But we can predict the future path for PositiveID based on history and this path is very similar to what Cub fans go through each year and plays out something like this;


Having a developmental product is like the Cubs at spring training, where all is great and the team still has a chance to reach the World Series. Investors, like Cub fans, talk about the promise of tomorrow choosing to ignore all the failures of years past. The company, like Cubs management, talks up the future stating they are closer than ever to reaching their ultimate goal. The season begins, or in the case of the product clinical trials commence and like the Cubs in the beginning things look promising and hope springs eternal. It’s not until September rolls around and once again the Cubs are playing for nothing more than pride or in the case of non-invasive the product just isn’t working as anticipated. (Most people may not know this but Cubs is actually an acronym for Completely Useless By September.) After yet another disappointing year the cycle starts all over the following spring.


Also like the Cubs who are now under new ownership and searching for yet another new manager, non-invasive companies are continually reinventing themselves, somehow believing that new management or a new name will break the curse of years past. The reality is nothing really has changed it’s just being done with a different set of players.


The most amazing similarity between the Cubs and non-invasive glucose monitoring comes in the loyalty; some would say stupidity, of their supporters. It’s been more than a 100 years since the Cubs last won a World Series and still fans renew their season tickets and fill Wrigley. It does not seem to matter which players are on the field or who manages the ballclub, fans turn out by the millions year in and year out.


The same is true with people who continually invest in non-invasive companies. No matter how many times others have failed, they continue to invest choosing to hold out hope that this particular company will somehow succeed no matter how many others have failed. Just as Cubs management knows they don’t have to put a winning ballclub on the field to make money, these companies know there are more investors out there willing to invest even more money.


Finally the saddest similarity between the Cubs and non-invasive glucose monitoring is the dream just won’t die. After years of having their hearts broken and wallets emptied, Cub fans and investors continue to dream. Perhaps this is why Sigmund Freud said, “A dream …. is a psychosis, with all the absurdities, delusions and illusions of a psychosis.”


Just as Cub fans are once again saying “Wait until next year” yet again this year. Diabetic Investor is not holding out hope that this latest attempt at a non-invasive glucose monitoring will turn out any different than products of the past. Diabetic Investor is fully awake and a proud fan of the real winners in Chicago, the first place and 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox.