Buybacks have gotten a bad rap from both Republicans and Democrats. But stocks would be trading at a massive discount without them.Marketsread more
Fiat Chrysler and France's Renault could soon partner up to take on the sweeping changes to the global auto industry, according to a report in the Financial Times. The...Autosread more
Microsoft shares have gained 133% since November 2015, outperforming a tech "basket of unicorns" over that stretch.Technologyread more
The president's state visit comes amid tensions with carmaker Toyota over potential auto tariffs. Trump has repeatedly threatened Japanese and European carmakers with tariffs.Traderead more
The IRS is about to release a new draft of Form W-4, which will more closely reflect the changes stemming from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. For workers, that means they'll need...Personal Financeread more
When commercial real estate investor Manny Khoshbin spent $2.2 million on the fastest production car in the world, he had no idea it would very quickly also become the...Autosread more
The Mega Millions jackpot has spilled over $400 million. It would be the ninth largest winning since the game began in 2002.Personal Financeread more
Trump was speaking at a meeting of Japanese business leaders in Tokyo during his state visit to Japan on Saturday.Marketsread more
The biggest U.S. gasoline price surge in years is running out of steam just in time for the start of the summer driving season.Energyread more
The federal minimum wage has remained $7.25 per hour since 2009. But several states, and even some companies, have since taken matters into their own hands to pay employees a...Workread more
Stocks rose on Friday, but notched weekly losses as investors worried the U.S.-China trade war is hurting economic growth.US Marketsread more
It's not every day a billionaire Shark Tank investor sends you a direct message via Twitter.
So when Mark Cuban messaged biotech entrepreneur Ethan Perlstein in August 2017 asking for his pitch deck, Perlstein was nonplussed.
"I remember showing it to my wife and saying, 'Is this a joke?'" Perlstein, chief executive of young South San Francisco biotech Perlara, told CNBC. "That was kind of surreal."
That Twitter exchange led to Cuban's fund, Radical Investments, putting $250,000 into Perlara's $7.4 million fundraising round last year.
Now, Cuban's investing again, in a project Perlstein calls a "PerlQuest" to find treatments for an extremely rare disease called Leigh syndrome. The neurological disorder is usually found in infants and typically causes respiratory failure and death within two to three years.
"Potentially saving lives is appealing to me," Cuban told CNBC in an e-mail. He declined to provide the size of this investment, but Perlstein said a typical program requires funding of between $250,000 and $750,000. "Rare/orphan diseases, by definition, have catastrophic consequences for the families affected," he said.
Cuban and Perlstein came together over a Twitter debate about drug pricing last year, and Cuban said by e-mail he plans to do more of this kind of investing.
Perlara calls itself a public benefit corporation, a for-profit company that counts doing good for society among its corporate goals. For Perlstein, that means incorporating patients in the company in a more direct way, and taking a different approach to pricing potential medicines.
"We staked our whole brand on wanting to make a downward dent on drug pricing," he explained.
Perlara's still a way's away from pricing a drug: it plans to start human testing of its first two projects next year, for NGLY1 Deficiency and PMM2-CDG, both extremely rare genetic diseases. Only about 800 people have been identified worldwide with the latter.
It's aiming to tackle both of those through "PerlQuests" as well, a system Perlara established to work with families or patient groups that want to invest in research.
"Right now we're living in a world where those families are told if you just raise a few million dollars for gene therapy, that's your panacea," Perlstein said, referring to technology that delivers a health copy of a gene to make up for one that causes disease.
Perlara aims to find more near-term solutions at a lower cost by creating disease models in worms, flies, yeast or fish, for example, and then screening existing compounds to see if there may be therapeutic activity.
"For a tenth of the cost, we're building animal models and finding repurposing opportunities," Perlstein explained.
The goal, then, isn't necessarily a cure, but a therapy that can help treat the disease for the years it may take to develop one.
That's the focus of Cuban's investment to develop treatments for Leigh syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that can be caused by mutations in one of more than 75 different genes.
"Families affected by rare disease are ready to move mountains, but they lack the financial resources to do so," Cuban said in a statement from Perlara. He said by e-mail he does expect a return on his investment, "but we aren't looking to maximize ROI. We are looking to maximize health and wellness."
He noted a successful treatment for the disease could also hold implications for "aging, sports medicine, traumatic brain injury, neurodegeneration and other indications."
As for drug pricing? Cuban's still interested in in it, pledging to "significantly reduce the pricing of all orphan drugs we invest in."
So far, Perlara is his only investment in drug discovery or development, he said.
His take on the industry's pricing practices more broadly is blunt: the "price of drugs," he said, "is too damn high."