- This “magic weight-loss pill” might actually work…
- Making “CRISPR babies” can be dangerous
- The Nasdaq of blockchain is coming…
Last week, we talked about America’s “Casedemic.” That’s the dramatic spike in COVID-19 “new cases” caused by the combination of sustained high levels of COVID-19 tests (763,682 tests on Saturday alone) and PCR tests, which are set to abnormally high sensitivity levels resulting in as much as 90% false positives.
This results in both new case numbers and mortality numbers that are grossly overstated.
While I have focused mostly on these crazy dynamics here in the U.S. due to the links with the U.S. equity markets, I do keep a close eye on what is happening around the world as well. Having lived and worked overseas most of my adult life, I tend to keep tabs on what’s going on everywhere.
So we’ll take a look at a few countries in Europe today other than Sweden. The numbers are very interesting.
Below, you’ll find two charts comparing new cases in France with COVID-19 daily deaths for perspective.
And here is the same comparison for Spain:
Now here is what the U.K. looks like:
What’s remarkable here is that, after the first spike of cases in the spring and the ensuing lockdowns and restrictions, the virus continued to spread.
All countries increased testing dramatically, and we were able to see the continued spread as new cases were identified in late July into August. These countries also experienced what the U.S. is currently experiencing, which is a very high percentage of PCR false positives.
Most countries around the world knew well by late spring to protect the weakest members of the population. After all, the average age of a COVID-19-related death is in the late 70s.
As a result, countries got better at protecting the at-risk population, but COVID-19 continues to spread to the low-risk parts of the population irrespective of whether or not masks are used.
This is why we are seeing a rise in new cases based on the charts above. However, we are not seeing a corresponding increase in COVID-19 deaths. I just picked out three representative countries, but the same is true in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and so on.
Sweden was the only country that didn’t panic and overreact, but the end result will be the same. COVID-19 will have run its course in these countries as well. Sweden simply allowed the spread to happen in one fell swoop over the course of three months with minimal economic disruption.
Yet what does the U.K. government do? It bans any social gatherings of more than six people with the risk of a £100 fine, which will double on each repeat offence up to £3,200 for anyone involved. This is absolutely nuts, achieves nothing at all, and represents a gross violation of personal freedoms.
So what’s going on with the U.S.? While the “casedemic” appears to be similar in the U.S. and Europe, why are U.S. COVID-19 deaths higher than Europe? The primary reason is how COVID-19 deaths are being counted.
If a gunshot victim dies in the hospital in Europe and they have COVID-19, the cause of death is a gunshot wound. If a patient in Europe dies of terminal cancer but they also have COVID-19, the cause of death is terminal cancer. If a patient is in critical care, dies after a car accident and tests positive in Europe, the cause of death is a car accident.
But in the U.S., all of those deaths are counted as COVID-19 deaths. Otherwise, the charts for the U.S. would look very similar to those shown above for Europe.
The epidemic is almost over. I accept that many people will try to drag this out as long as they can for their own financial and/or political benefit. But the reality is that the actual number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 will have run their course before the end of November.
Hopefully by then, calm, rational minds will prevail.
Now let’s turn to today’s insights…
CRISPR for weight loss…
Research out of Harvard University is exploring a unique application for CRISPR genetic editing technology – CRISPR for weight loss.
This could be the most popular use of CRISPR yet.
CRISPR genetic editing technology won’t be new to regular Bleeding Edge readers. To bring newer readers up to speed, CRISPR is like software programming for DNA. It allows us to “edit” genetic mutations that cause many diseases. Ultimately, CRISPR will help us cure all human disease of genetic origin.
And now it seems CRISPR has the potential to cure obesity as well.
Here’s how it works…
A team at Harvard is using CRISPR to modify human white fat cells, which are the cells that we would normally associate with fat. These are the cells that make fatty deposits and create a lot of visceral fat around our organs. They can lead to obesity, which is linked to inflammation, a depleted immune system, and potential organ failure.
By editing these white fat cells, CRISPR can give them the characteristics of brown fat cells. Brown fat cells are packed with mitochondria (the power generators of cells), which give the fat its color. Because of the mitochondria, brown fat cells burn energy. Humans lose brown fat as they gain weight and as they age.
In testing on mice, the team at Harvard demonstrated that this technique works. After 12 weeks, the mice with CRISPR-modified white fat cells gained significantly less weight than those without treatment when placed on a high fat diet.
Not only that, but the CRISPR-treated mice displayed better glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and energy metabolism. And that’s despite all the mice being on the same fatty diet.
So this is yet another promising application for CRISPR genetic editing technology. And it could strike a major blow to obesity and certain metabolic disorders.
Imagine going into the clinic once a month and getting a shot of your own modified white fat cells that results in weight loss. There’s no question about it – such a treatment would be a smashing hit! It’s the “magic weight-loss pill” that so many people have been searching for.
But as a reminder, there is nothing better for our own health and human longevity than a healthy diet coupled with regular exercise, which includes both strength training and cardiovascular exercise. These are two of the real secrets to living a long and healthy life.
An ethical framework for CRISPR genetic editing…
Speaking of CRISPR, one of the major issues surrounding this technology is how to use it responsibly and ethically.
At this point, it is clear that CRISPR works extremely well, and it is incredibly powerful… powerful enough to “engineer” superhumans. And that begs the question – how far should we take it? That’s been a major topic of debate in the industry.
Well, I have in my hand an advanced copy of an ethical consensus report put together by a commission of scientists and ethicists. This report creates a framework around the ethical use of CRISPR genetic-editing technology.
The report is the joint work of organizations including the National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society.
And it focuses on germline editing, which is the most sensitive issue in the debate.
Germline editing is where the single cell of a human being is edited right after conception. Editing this single cell alters that person’s DNA forever, making the edit “heritable.” In other words, the edit will be passed down to any children that person has… as well as those children’s children and so on.
That’s not the case when we use CRISPR to treat people after birth. When CRISPR is used to edit the genes of a developed human, the edit is not passed down to future generations.
It’s easy to see why this is such a critical issue.
If something goes wrong with germline editing, bad edits could be passed down for generations. This stands in stark contrast to local genetic editing on developed humans, where mistakes made on subjects can potentially be corrected by another edit with no lasting harm done.
And that makes germline editing potentially dangerous, especially if it is used irresponsibly.
That’s why this consensus report recommends that we stay away from germline editing. We just can’t guarantee that no harm will be done to children born with this kind of editing.
Additionally, as this report points out, humans in embryo state cannot decide for themselves whether they would like to have their DNA edited. Who are we to make that decision for them?
It’s great to see that the industry is being so thoughtful about this issue. And this is also an intentional effort to stop some of the irresponsible experiments that have been conducted by scientists in China and Russia.
The fact that we’re at the point where a consensus report is warranted means that the industry is gearing up for an explosion in incredible therapeutic developments based on CRISPR technology.
We can expect to see some big breakthroughs in the months to come…
The newest development at Coinbase suggests that blockchain is about to go mainstream…
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong just confirmed rumors that the company plans to launch a new service for blockchain startups. The service will allow early stage blockchain companies to raise capital and potentially even list shares for trading on a public exchange. The new platform is tentatively called Coinbase Launch.
To say this is a big development is an understatement.
Coinbase is one of the most successful digital asset exchanges in the world. It is the largest provider of liquidity for cryptocurrencies and digital assets in the United States. And Coinbase is arguably the most successful blockchain company to date.
A big reason for the company’s success is that it took a hardline stance on compliance from day one.
Even in the “Wild West” days of cryptocurrency, Coinbase worked hard to be buttoned up and compliant with all Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulations.
This approach meant that Coinbase had to deal with a plethora of cross-border and cross-state laws and regulations. But as a result, the platform has been available to investors in all 50 states since the early days.
Because of this, Coinbase is one of the most credible companies in the space, and it has a good relationship with regulators.
So when Coinbase says that it wants to provide an avenue for blockchain startups to raise capital and go public, the industry pays close attention.
Coinbase Launch will be a one-stop shop for clients. It will help early stage companies navigate the regulatory environment, work through the governance issues involved, and successfully launch their own digital assets on a well-known and trusted exchange.
And Coinbase will even “custody” the digital asset on investors’ behalf. That means it will hold the asset in a safe place so it cannot be lost or stolen.
What we’re talking about here is a new Nasdaq for publicly-traded blockchain companies. A digital asset exchange that will also empower early stage companies to raise capital as well.
And with the potential for upcoming changes in crowdfunding regulations, this may even be great news for normal investors to gain access to these kinds of capital raises… assuming that they are Reg. A, Reg A+, or Reg CF deals.
And I believe many of these digital assets will be security tokens.
These are digital assets that work like a cryptocurrency. They are held in a digital wallet, and holders can trade them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The transactions are recorded on a blockchain, creating a digital ledger that cannot be altered.
Unlike cryptocurrencies, however, security tokens offer some level of ownership interest in the underlying asset.
It could be an ownership stake in the company, just like a traditional stock. Or it could be the right to receive some amount of the revenue or cash flow generated by the company. Or it could be proportionate ownership in an asset like real estate or intellectual property.
We talked about all the possibilities last week when we discussed INX, the first SEC-approved security token.
So the types of digital assets listed on Coinbase Launch will look much different than the cryptocurrencies that trade today.
And this could be the catalyst that propels security tokens and digital assets into the mainstream. After all, security tokens take the best features of traditional equities and the best features of cryptocurrencies and blend them together. For investors, what’s not to like?
I believe this news is also a sign that we’ll see Coinbase itself go public soon. The public filings required will add an element of transparency that regulators will want to see before signing off on the Coinbase Launch platform.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
P.S. Are you tired of getting Wall Street’s investment scraps?
As regular readers know, I detest the fact that average retail investors have been locked out of the best technology investments of the last decade. Sure, hot tech companies like Uber, Slack, and Zoom finally went public last year, giving retail investors a chance to buy shares.
But these were large-cap companies by the time they went public. While the media touted them as the hottest small-cap tech stocks on the planet, insiders had already pocketed the big gains. Retail investors got the leftovers.
To me, that’s just not right.
Over five years ago, I set out to solve this problem. I wanted to find a way to deliver venture capital-like gains to everyday mom-and-pop investors.
And I’m happy to say that I’ve found it. I discovered a class of “Penny IPO” stocks that go public 100 – 300 times cheaper than most tech stocks today. Some of these Penny IPOs even go public cheaper than Amazon did way back in 1997…
And best of all, these Penny IPOs are too small for Wall Street to take notice of them yet. We can buy these companies before the insiders get in. Then, when these stocks finally pop up on Wall Street’s radar, we can multiply our money in droves.
That’s not a hypothetical – my first Penny IPO delivered gains of 432% in just 41 trading days.
And now we’re entering a special period for these Penny IPOs… something I call the “4X Window.” That’s a time that will send these stocks into hyperdrive.
That’s why I have put together a presentation explaining this dynamic and my Penny IPO solution.
On September 23 at 8 p.m. ET, I’m going to pull the curtain back on the world of Penny IPOs. And I’ll show you how a small investment in this class of IPOs can reap major gains in the coming months.
For readers who would like to learn more, simply go right here to reserve your spot.
Like what you’re reading? Send your thoughts to [email protected].