- The future of health care: AI-powered nanobots
- This cyberattack should be a major wake-up call
- Twitter’s CEO just made a very interesting announcement
A few days ago, biotechnology giant Regeneron released some encouraging news on a new therapy for treating COVID-19.
Its drug, REGN-COV2, is a monoclonal antibody therapy. It’s basically a mix of antibodies that look like those the human body produces to fight off the antigens of the COVID-19 virus.
The company released data demonstrating that its therapy reduced the levels of COVID-19 and shortened the time to recovery. The therapy was especially effective in patients who had not mounted an immune response to COVID-19 yet.
So it didn’t come as a surprise that physicians gave President Trump the antibodies to support a fast recovery.
It appears to have worked. The president left the hospital on Sunday evening to wave from his car to supporters who had lined the streets nearby. Given his rapidly improving condition, by the time you read this, he may already be discharged and back at the White House.
At 74, and with a few unnecessary pounds, he is certainly at a higher risk of experiencing symptoms and becoming ill. But what I found interesting wasn’t so much the use of REGN-COV2 but the fact that he was also being treated with other therapeutics.
The president had been preemptively taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that has proven to protect against COVID-19. I’ve lost count of how many studies have demonstrated efficacy.
And I have recently reviewed additional studies, which revealed that countries with a high prevalence of malaria (and thus, high use of anti-malarial drugs) have demonstrated multiple times lower rates of both COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths.
Soon after the president tested positive, he began a multiday treatment of Gilead’s remdesivir anti-viral drug, which was early approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
And yesterday, he received dexamethasone, a common steroid also proven to be effective against COVID-19.
In other words, his doctors threw in the kitchen sink.
How is this related to the markets?
After the news came out last week, the markets got pounded on the uncertainty caused by the president’s diagnosis. The mainstream media proclaimed that he may become severely ill and die, and some even stated they hoped that would be the case…
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wish ill on anyone.
Given the seemingly quick road back to good health, we have already seen the positive impact on the markets, which of course is good for investors.
And while highly anecdotal, this incident is certainly a shot in the arm for Gilead and Regeneron and their COVID-19-related therapies. I suspect both companies will do well in their pursuit of eventual approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for these therapies.
Now let’s turn to today’s insights…
Nanobots are coming…
When I think about advancements in technology over the last couple of decades, there is only one area that has disappointed me – nanotechnology.
Decades ago, we envisioned tiny nano-scale robots capable of self-assembling and building. They would be small enough to be administered in the body to help cure disease, destroy tumors, and deliver medicine to just the right places.
But progress has been remarkably slow. Even with our advanced technology, it has been difficult to manufacture functional machines at that scale.
A team of scientists at Cornell University just found a way to make microscopic robots that are smaller than the cross section of a single human hair. They are so small that one million of these nanobots fit on a single semiconductor wafer. And 1,000 of them fit in a space the size of a period.
Here’s the key – these scientists figured out how to both manufacture the nanobots using common silicon-semiconductor manufacturing techniques and make them mobile. That’s been the hard part.
To crack the code, the team used a Japanese origami technique to fold the legs from flat material. After the nanobots have been manufactured, they are precisely cut out of the semiconductor die. And once mobile, they can be steered using a laser. It is easier to understand once you’ve seen it…
Here’s a visual:
Cornell’s Microscopic Robots
Source: Cornell University
Functional nanobots will be a game changer in the health care industry.
These bots are small enough that they could be used to crawl through human arteries, cleaning them out as they go. Or they could be directed to attack a cancerous tumor inside the body, helping the natural immune system to beat cancer.
Perhaps most exciting, these nanobots can be enabled with limited artificial intelligence (AI). At that point, they will become semiautonomous.
And because silicon technology can be used to manufacture these nanobots, they can be produced at extremely low cost. In fact, a million of them can be made from a single semiconductor wafer.
With the addition of some intelligence – and some improvements in the ability to steer or self-direct the nanobots and carry a therapeutic payload – these could become amazing therapeutic tools for a wide range of illnesses.
A cyberattack just took down a major hospital chain…
Last week, a major cyberattack targeted a large hospital chain and health care network called Universal Health Services. This group has hospitals throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.K.
The attack took down Universal’s entire computer network. As a result, Universal had to shut all its systems down and revert to using paper records.
Let’s think about that… It’s October 2020, and this company is literally reverting to paper documents and staples to get its work done. We’re talking about a modern health care network with 90,000 employees that treats 3.5 million patients a year – and it had to go back to using paper systems.
That’s just not going to work. A company of this size needs computing systems and automation to operate.
And get this – the cyberattack was achieved with simple phishing techniques. The hackers got into Universal’s network by getting an employee to click on a malicious link in an email that looked legitimate.
That’s all it took for the cybercriminals to hold the entire health care network at ransom.
This is why I periodically harp on the fact that we should never click any links unless we know who they came from and that we can trust the sender. We should always check the underlying email address of the sender to see if it makes any sense. It is critical to err on the side of caution with any suspicious emails or links.
We haven’t talked about cyberattacks in a while, but they are on the rise this year.
In fact, cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike reported that there were more cyberattacks in the first half of 2020 than in all of 2019. And with a volatile election coming soon, we can expect to see even more attacks in the coming weeks.
To me, this highlights how organizations continue to underspend on cybersecurity technology.
It’s like insurance. We hate to spend much money on insurance because we don’t think we will ever need it. But when we do need it, we wish we had more of it.
Simply put, corporations need to spend a lot more on cybersecurity. Universal Health Services should be a wake-up call. The days of implementing minimal cybersecurity systems are over.
And here’s the thing – there’s no silver bullet when it comes to security. Different kinds of cybersecurity address different attack vectors and areas of weakness. Companies need to implement all of them.
So I think we may see cybersecurity companies come back into favor given the dramatic rise in cybercrime in 2020. And that spells opportunity for the top cybersecurity stocks on the market.
One of my favorite large-cap cybersecurity firms is currently an active holding in our Near Future Report model portfolio. Out of fairness to my paid readers, I won’t reveal the research here. But Near Future Report subscribers can catch up right here.
And new readers can join us today and get exposure right away by going here.
Twitter’s CEO aims to disrupt his own business…
Speaking at a conference, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey talked about the work the company is doing to support and fund the Bluesky project. In fact, Dorsey is looking to hire five to 10 people in key leadership positions for the operation.
Bluesky is a nonprofit organization working to create a framework for a decentralized social media network. This is a social media platform that would not be controlled by a centralized company like Twitter or Facebook.
Instead, it would be controlled by the users.
That’s right – Dorsey is actively working to help build out a social media network that will compete with Twitter. He is investing in next-generation technology that will disrupt his own business.
We don’t see that happen very often. Usually, incumbents fight tooth and nail trying to protect their business and their technology. Microsoft has been doing that for decades.
But if we dig into what Dorsey is really doing, we’ll see that this is a brilliant move. Decentralized social media platforms are the future. Dorsey is staying ahead of the game here.
These platforms will be based on blockchain technology, which will be able to verify a user’s identity at sign-up. That will prevent the creation of fake accounts set up just to spew garbage, which is such a big problem on Twitter and Facebook.
In this way, blockchain will also be far better at fighting against the bots and bad actors that are manipulating social media networks today. That will create a better user experience. And it will remove social media from the regulatory crosshairs.
Dorsey will be in a prime position to build Twitter 2.0 on top of the platform Bluesky creates. That will instantly improve Twitter’s quality, giving it a competitive advantage in the space.
But other social media companies can also build their platforms on top of Bluesky. It will be an open system.
This is a great move. I must tip my cap to Dorsey.
This is a strong indication of Twitter being well positioned for the next generation of social media technology. While it will take a few years to develop this technology, this bodes well for Twitter’s future as one of the dominant social media platforms of our time.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
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