- The company revolutionizing organ transplants…
- The pharma industry is waking up to the power of AI…
- Three reasons I’m worried about crypto…
Some incredible research has been released providing us even further insights into the “at risk” populations for COVID-19.
This time, the work was done by the World Obesity Federation, which used COVID-19 mortality data from Johns Hopkins University and the World Health Organization.
I was anxious to the see the results. I’ve actually written about obesity as being the key factor that differentiates the dramatically lower mortality rates seen in countries like Japan, South Korea, and so many others throughout Asia. I was based in Tokyo for nearly 20 years, and I worked extensively throughout Asia for more than two decades… I know the region like my backyard.
I’ve spoken with many people about this. And the one “argument” I’ve heard a few times is that “there are obese people in every country.” Of course, the statement is correct… but it misses the point.
The World Obesity Federation’s research analyzed data from 160 countries. It determined that, of the 2.5 million reported COVID-19 deaths as of this February, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half of the population is considered to be overweight. Wow.
The research analyzed data from 160 countries. It determined that, of the 2.5 million reported COVID-19 deaths as of this February, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half of the population is considered to be overweight. Wow.
We already know that the majority of COVID-19 mortalities happen at 65 years or older, with patients that have at least two or three underlying comorbidities. And now we know that across all age groups, 88% of all reported COVID-19 deaths happened in the most overweight countries.
And get this. Not a single country where the average adult BMI was below 25 experienced a high COVID-19 mortality rate. Not one.
Even more telling is that COVID-19 mortality rates were more than 10 times higher in countries where the prevalence of obesity was more than 50% of adults.
And in the U.S. alone, 63.5% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations were attributable to patients with diabetes, high BMI, hypertension, and heart failure. These are all conditions that are a direct result of obesity.
This is a very personal issue for me because, just six months ago, I was in that category. And I didn’t even know it. My BMI was 34.2, which was at dangerous levels. And not surprisingly, both my visceral and subcutaneous fat were way out of range.
It was a wake-up call for me. I worked extremely hard with diet, nutrition, and exercise to drop 40 pounds and decrease my BMI to 29.7, which would bring my visceral fat back well within normal range.
I’ve been putting a lot of work in on the stationary rowing machine. And I’m happy to report that I recently broke the 20-minute barrier on the 5,000 meter run last month.
I’m still overweight and have some more work to do. But not only have I dramatically improved my immune system – I feel fantastic.
If there’s one thing that I could wish for all my readers, it would be good health. Yes, I can help my subscribers make a lot of money investing. But without good health, it quickly becomes difficult to enjoy wealth.
One of the true secrets to longevity, health, and high performance is working hard to give our bodies great nutrition. We must aim to avoid the things that will slowly kill us over time. And we need regular exercise to stay healthy and strong.
Now let’s turn to today’s insights…
Checking back in on eGenesis…
eGenesis just landed a massive $125 million Series C venture round. This will go a long way in supporting the company’s first two genetic engineering programs. And this is a major milestone that puts eGenesis on the path to a public offering.
We last talked about eGenesis way back in January of last year.
To bring new readers up to speed, this is a company founded by famed Harvard geneticist and entrepreneur George Church. The company is working in a field that we would never talk about in polite conversation – xenotransplantation.
Xenotransplantation refers to growing organs in animals to transplant them into humans. As strange as this may sound, it is important work.
There are more than 100,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant right now. And 20 of those people die every single day because they didn’t receive an organ in time.
This has been a difficult problem to solve. We’ve had the ability to transplant animal organs for decades now, but the human immune system often rejects them.
That’s where eGenesis comes in. eGenesis uses genetic engineering to modify pigs so that their organs will not be rejected by the human body.
And the company is starting with the kidney. That’s the first program in its pipeline. This will be a major boon for patients suffering from kidney failure.
The second target is something called islet cells. These are cells taken from the pancreas of a pig that can help treat type 1 diabetes in humans.
So momentum is building within eGenesis’ pipeline. And we can see this reflected based on who invested in the company’s latest venture round.
Fresenius Medical Care Ventures, Bayer, LifeSci Venture Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, and Polaris Partners were among those investing in the Series C round. These are big names when it comes to early stage biotech investing.
And this venture round puts eGenesis on solid footing. I expect we’ll see one more private funding round before the company goes public.
And with its kidney transplant program getting closer to human clinical trials, we can expect excitement around this company to pick up. We’ll continue to track eGenesis and its future clinical trials.
The first drug discovered by AI has advanced into preclinical trials…
Here at Brownstone Research, we have been following the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and biotechnology for several years now. In fact, we discussed the very first drug discovered by AI back in September 2019. That’s when we first talked about Insilico Medicine.
Insilico Medicine was founded on the idea that AI can drive drug discovery much faster than the standard trial-and-error model.
And Insilico’s AI discovered its first drug in just 46 days. By comparison, it takes the standard pharmaceutical company three and a half years on average to complete the drug discovery phase.
So Insilico certainly proved its first theory correct. But as we emphasized at the time, drug discovery is just the first stage of the process.
From there, a drug must prove itself through preclinical trials in animal models. And then it must demonstrate both safety and efficacy in human clinical trials before it can gain regulatory approval.
Well, Insilico’s first AI-discovered drug just took the next step. It advanced into preclinical trials.
This is an exciting milestone. And it only took about 18 months from the start of the process. That means Insilico is two full years ahead of the traditional timeline. This speaks to the power of AI-based drug discovery.
And while some naysayers have been critical of Insilico’s breakthrough, Insilico is seeing demand spike for its AI-based software in the biopharma industry.
And it just licensed the technology out to major pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Syngenta as a result. This tells us that the rest of the industry is rapidly waking up to the promise of AI.
We are just at the beginning of a massive trend here. Just as I predicted in my 2020 prediction series, we are going to see the entire biotechnology industry adopt AI for use in drug discovery over this decade. In fact, it will be a competitive disadvantage not to do so.
This will have a tremendous impact on the medical field. And ultimately it will help us develop cures for all human disease. That may seem far-fetched now. But the eradication of disease is something we can look forward to over the course of the next two decades.
And of course, there will be some incredible investment opportunities along the way. In fact, my pipeline of early stage biotech companies is more robust than it has ever been.
We are seeing waves of biotech companies go public every month now. And I am starting to see drug development at these companies accelerate tremendously thanks to the use of bleeding-edge technology like AI.
This is setting us up for some incredible moves in the biotech space this year.
To talk about this dynamic, and the immense investment opportunity it provides, I am hosting an investor summit next week. We are calling it Timed Stocks: Final Countdown. It’s taking place next Thursday, March 18, at 8 p.m. ET.
That night, I am going to pull back the curtain on why the opportunity in biotech is bigger than ever before. It has a lot to do with this incredible convergence of technologies.
I will also discuss my pipeline of early stage biotech companies. I am tracking some companies doing incredible work that nobody has heard of before.
And we’ll even talk about the next biotech stock set to pop on the back of a major catalyst. I call it my number one “timed stock.”
So I encourage all readers interested in the biotech space to join me next Thursday for our Timed Stocks: Final Countdown event. We’ll kick off at 8 p.m. ET sharp.
Attendance is free for all readers of The Bleeding Edge. I just ask that you reserve your spot right here ahead of time.
Three red flags in the digital asset space…
A confluence of events surrounding digital assets and cryptocurrencies has given me great concern for the industry. Three separate events are throwing up red flags.
First, the New York Attorney General (AG) issued something of a warning to cryptocurrency investors. This was tied to the court case involving U.S. stablecoin Tether that we talked about back in January.
To sum up, that case revealed that Tether has not been backed one-to-one by U.S. dollars as it claims. As a result, the AG is requiring Tether and cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex to stop all trading activity in the state of New York.
In addition, the New York AG issued what could be considered a warning to investors. It recommended extreme caution with regards to cryptocurrency.
At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Examination just determined that digital assets create unique risks for investors. The division also suggested that the pseudo-anonymity provided by distributed ledger technology – blockchains – causes problems when it comes to anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) laws.
To be clear, this is just a division of the SEC. It does not speak for the entire agency.
Still, it appears to be something of a warning shot across the bow. This may signal that the SEC is going to take an even harsher stance against digital assets.
Lastly, what is giving me the greatest concern is that the newly nominated SEC chair Gary Gensler indicated that he will be more aggressive on regulatory enforcement issues than his predecessor, Jay Clayton. Things were not good for the industry under Clayton. That means things will likely get worse under Gensler. This is a major concern.
To me, the fact that these events are happening at the same time is not a coincidence. It is clear that the regulatory environment is going to remain unfriendly toward digital assets and cryptocurrencies – as well as normal investors interested in investing in the space – for the time being.
Heavy handed regulations will also cause unwanted volatility in the industry and could result in dramatic declines in digital asset prices.
As a member of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, I can say that we are doing everything we can in Washington to educate regulators on the benefits of digital assets and blockchain technology. Our goal is a friendly regulatory environment that provides clarity to the industry.
This will encourage growth and capital formation right here in the U.S. The work of the Chamber is more important than ever before.
Unfortunately, we haven’t yet made the impact we strive for. And the regulatory environment remains very unclear for the time being. But we’re going to keep at it.
Blockchain technology is ultimately the next generation of internet technology. And we need to ensure that it succeeds.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
P.S. Again, don’t forget to reserve your spot for our Timed Stocks: Final Countdown event next week. We’ll kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 18.
Just go right here for all the details.
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