By Paschal Keogh
Those of you who regularly investigate upcoming ICOs will be well used to lofty claims. “The world of gambling/investment/social media/dating/pin cushion manufacture will never be the same again!”
Well, here’s something else. Genetic Immunity, a Hungarian based medical tech company wants your investment so that it can seek FDA approval for its HIV vaccine. I hope that this vaccine works and, if so, I hope that they succeed, but I am not immune to cynicism (if only there was a vaccine for that), and at first glance, one must have serious reservations. Who ever heard of a drug manufacturer crowdfunding? And what has this got to do with the Blockchain, and cryptocurrencies?
Let me walk you through Genetic Immunity, because while you will come away from reading its whitepaper not entirely convinced, be prepared for a nagging feeling that you might be missing out on the big one if you don’t put your hands in your wallets for this one. But isn’t that what leads us to invest in these companies? That fear of missing the next big thing?
— Dermavir (@DermavirICO) February 15, 2018
Rather tastelessly, Genetic Immunity’s whitepaper discusses the “HIV Industry” in some detail. Perhaps this is how drug companies talk, but it feels dispiriting to think of marketing execs examining graphs of populations suffering from life-altering diseases and seeing commercial opportunity. Nevertheless, the global HIV medication market, the whitepaper explains, is worth $19 billion per year and is dominated by antiretroviral therapy.
Genetic Immunity has developed a therapeutic vaccine, DermaVir, which it claims boosts the body’s immune response and kills HIV infected cells. It can work together with antiretroviral drugs or alone, and only needs to be used every three months.
Remarkably, the company has reached Phase 2 trials of this drug, and has raised more than $10 million in funding to date. The human trials and other data are all on the website to see, and there is an impressive array of peer reviewed papers for the more scientifically minded amongst you to read.
Here are the essential numbers for the ICO
- 20 Million Dermavir Coins will be issued on the Ethereum Blockchain
- 10 Million will be available during pre-sale and crowdsale
- 20th of February to 20th March- $0.70 for 1 Dermavir- One Million Available
- 21st March to 21st April- $0.80 for 1 Dermavir-Two Million Available
- 22nd April to 22nd May- $0.90 for 1 Dermavir-Three Million Available
- Crowdsale from 22nd of May to 23rd of June- Final Four Million Dermavir Available for $1 each
You might think that there is some scientific genius at the helm of this project, busily making room on his shelf for a Nobel Prize or two. But the CEO is a venture capitalist, Viktor Rozsnyay. He acquired Genetic Immunity in 2013, so it is tempting to assume that the ICO is his brainchild, if not the actual products themselves. “Venture Capitalist Cures HIV” is not a headline one might expect to read, but the whitepaper and website identifies other team members with more predictable credentials for curing the world of its ills.
The currency is called Dermavir and will be only issued once, so the maximum of 20 million has a strong chance of appreciation.
However, it is difficult to grasp what the currency will be used for as the function of the Personal Medicine App the whitepaper describes is sketchy at best, and the whole project could fall flat on its face if FDA approval isn’t received. Perhaps the idea of an ICO was mooted; then someone figured that they needed a cryptocurrency and a gimmick to give it some value. The whitepaper’s assertion that this is an altruistic decision by the company to share its success with the ordinary folk of the world rings a little hollow.
If Dermavir does what the company claims, then there is no reason to think that anything other than huge success and fortune beckons for its team. What is less clear is how this translates to revenue for investors, who will not be shareholders of course, merely holders of a currency that can be used on an App that doesn’t yet exist.
Of course, this is an overall criticism of cryptocurrencies, which in many instances seem to serve no actual function other than to be traded like football stickers. So is there a reason why you should invest in Genetic Immunity? Well yes, perhaps they are on the verge of a major breakthrough with HIV and other illnesses and their currency, for that reason alone, will become a player in years to come.
Or you could be sensible and keep your money. But can’t you just sense that nagging feeling in your stomach that you could be throwing away a fortune? Well, that’s crypto investing for you.