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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 23, 2012

Nativis Update

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Posted by Derek

Longtime readers will remember the interaction I had with Nativis Pharmaceuticals. That's the outfit that claims to be working with "drug signatures" instead of the drug molecules themselves. I found it interesting to see a company with all the outward trappings of a biotech startup that was spending its time (and its investors' money) on what sounded to me like the next thing to homeopathy. "Unique photon fields" of drug molecules? "Photon payloads" from "imprinted coherence domains"? You don't run across this sort of thing every day - well, not where I work.

When I said so, though, I got to hear from the company's chief legal counsel, and we ended up trading helpful advice. (Well, I thought my advice to him was helpful, at any rate). We have not crossed paths since.

But readers are reporting that the company's San Diego site appears to be emptied out, so I decided to check up on them. As it happens, they do not seem to be out of business: they're just moving to Seattle. Now, why the company seems to have pulled back its presence on its own web site, and on LinkedIn, etc., I don't know. And whatever happened to the publications that they were planning, and to their IND, I don't know, either. But at least as of last fall, they were a going concern. If any readers up the Northwest hear some news, please pass it on!

Comments (21) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Snake Oil


1. Anonymous on March 23, 2012 7:23 AM writes...

They should move to Utah and hang out with the nutritional supplement folks. Orin Hatch the wonderful republican will provide them sanctuary as long as one of his family members gets to make some money on the scam.

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2. PPedroso on March 23, 2012 7:51 AM writes...

The Website is still active. Just search in the search tab and it will give you the archived posts.

I have been reading the 2010 posts! What a great story and what a great response you gave to the CFO of Nativis.

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3. Carl-Bear on March 23, 2012 7:57 AM writes...

The web site isn't really inactive. That's the unique photon signature of the web site; just as effective as the real thing, and much cheaper than paying a web master. Right?

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4. HelicalZz on March 23, 2012 8:25 AM writes...

They may be moving to Seattle, but they will always have a residual presence in San Diego.


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5. Anon on March 23, 2012 8:35 AM writes...

Quack! Quack!

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6. anon on March 23, 2012 1:22 PM writes...

I find it offensive that $244k of federal stimulus funds went to this company. It may be a drop in the bucket but you would hope that ANY intelligent review of their concept would make sure they didn't receive any money.....

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7. exGlaxoid on March 23, 2012 1:42 PM writes...


"you would hope that ANY intelligent review of their concept would make sure they didn't receive any money....."

You have obviously never worked for the federal government...

The few jobs I have had there showed me that once people get a job there, they realize that if they ever solved a problem or fixed anything, their job would not be needed any more. No one in government wants to cut off the gravy train, since their job depends on administering it. That is why we still have the strategic wool reserve, rural telephone line programs, and the Spanish-American war telephone tax.

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8. Kevin on March 23, 2012 3:08 PM writes...

They botched cloaking their website. Any 404 error gives a list of active pages, like this:

Pretty hilarious reading.

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9. GreedyCynicalSelfInterested on March 23, 2012 5:03 PM writes...

@7 Governments can go out of business and actually fire workers! Look at Greece! It's our *deserved* future.

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10. ZZTop on March 23, 2012 9:06 PM writes...

Looks like these guys have been using their drug signal technology on crack...

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11. Anonymous on March 23, 2012 9:20 PM writes...

I think GSK should buy them....after all, they bought Sirtris!! Would make a lot of sense based on the big pharma non-sense!

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12. Nile on March 24, 2012 7:31 AM writes...

We all have a duty to expose quacks and hucksters.

Sometimes this duty is hilarious fun.

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13. Nile on March 24, 2012 7:35 AM writes...

We all have a duty to expose quacks and hucksters.

Sometimes this duty is hilarious fun.

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14. WB on March 26, 2012 3:41 AM writes...

I couldn't stop laughing when I read this:

Lazy journalists, PR cronies or just plain stupid suckers?

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15. Vader on March 26, 2012 10:42 AM writes...

#1 Anonymous,

Orrin Hatch has certainly done the country a disservice with his support for lax regulation of nutritional supplements. However, I'd not heard that his family were in on the business; can you post more details?

Also, the fight against quackery ought to remain as nonpartisan as possible. Yes, Hatch is a Republican (who, ironically, is facing a serious challenge from within his own party this year) but Joe Kennedy III is a Democrat who has ties to the antivaccination movement. A nonpartisan antiquack movement is going to get more traction, in my opinion, than one that has obvious partisan linkages.

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16. jgault on March 30, 2012 12:23 AM writes...

Nativis's technology makes me think we might be able to apply a magnetic field to a drug and read the precession frequency into a database, then process the data into a digestible form and consume the data to get the drug's effect. (Who knew we had to do was eat a printout of the NMR and be cured)

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17. daniel on April 7, 2012 1:24 PM writes...

We could already smell them coming here in the northwest. investors beware... they had stated in local papers last year that this was their "homecoming" of sorts as this is where they are from. the reason they left in the first place (to go to SD) was because of their bad reputation here in Seattle. They may think we have forgotten in the past decade, but we haven't!

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18. Dr. Dot on April 17, 2012 7:33 AM writes...

I wonder if the Bureaucrats in California started sniffing a little too closely, thus they had to high-tail it out of town. I mean who, in their right mind, leaves San Diego without being ridden out on a rail?

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19. Matt on June 15, 2012 11:15 PM writes...

Well, you asked for news, and I'm finally passing it on...

Nativis has been "collaborating" with a couple of groups at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research and the University of Washington. I was in the UW lab until recently and the whole affair had become a joke among us. The experiments involved playing a signal to water, then using that water in a PCR, which, in the absence of a template strand, was supposed to generate a DNA sequence corresponding to the signal we had played. Nobody was able to make this work, including Nativis themselves; a couple of group members watched the experiments performed at Nativis's own facility, and found that the experiment and negative control were indistinguishable. Butters, they said, sees what he wants to see.

My own interaction with Butters was limited, and involved me questioning one of his scientific assertions, after which, rather than rebutting my point, he told my boss to keep me in line (which didn't happen). Other lab members also described some unpleasant interactions. I won't comment on his character, except to say that it very much conforms to the DSM-IV criteria for ASPD.

Nativis is trying to do what they did at UCSD, which is to co-opt the name of a respected institution. It hasn't worked, because people at the UW and Fred Hutchinson aren't stupid. What kills me is that the investors apparently haven't recognized that their money would be better used by virtually anyone else. Grad students make less than minimum wage, while the Butters family, living the high life, tries to bully them into producing a positive result.

It is time for the investors to acknowledge that Nativis will never produce anything useful, and take steps to cut their losses.

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20. JW on July 31, 2012 1:21 PM writes...

This is arrant nonsense. I interacted briefly with this company out of curiosity several years ago. I tried, and failed, to convince the principals that the burden of proof for such outrageous claims was huge. I sketched out the framework of two possibl;e Nature papers and the experiments needed to provide the data. None of it ever got done. This stuff is in the realm of 'teleportation' and 'cold fusion'. God help their investors.

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21. Triflate on November 29, 2012 5:25 PM writes...

The Nativis website seems to be back up and running now - they are marketing a portable RF device to treat tumors.

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