• A new kind of RNA therapy has been revealed…
  • The company that’s hiring people to make deepfakes…
  • NFTs are becoming status symbols…

Dear Reader,

There is so much incredible research being published right now concerning SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

As we’re more than 18 months in, the data set is much larger than it was a year ago, and that means we have an even better understanding of what is happening and what works and what doesn’t work.

Sadly, very few public health officials are openly discussing this information. And in many cases, it is being censored or banned outright not only by those officials, but also by mainstream media outlets and social media platforms.

Fortunately, for us, there are scientists still willing to maintain objectivity, understand the numbers, and gain insights into what is going on. I have deep respect for these scientists. They take great risks in publishing what they find. It can now result in the devastation of their careers.

Those who have sold out to give way to political narrative are the reason for the public distrust of what used to be trusted institutions.

Yesterday, a team including researchers from Tufts and Harvard published the results of a nationwide study looking at what is thought to be COVID-19 hospitalizations from March 1, 2020, through June 30 of this year.

The goal of the study was simple – to determine how the severity of the symptoms of COVID-19 changed over the course of the period of the study due to the use of vaccines.

How they did that was to define “moderate-to-severe COVID-19” as something that required the use of supplemental oxygen given anytime between one day before and two weeks after a positive COVID-19 test.

As expected, as more vaccines were administered, the number of moderate-to-severe cases declined. This is logical. Vaccines do not stop us from catching COVID-19 – period. They simply reduce the severity of the symptoms for those who have not yet had COVID-19.

Those who never received a vaccine, and have already had COVID-19 and recovered, are already better protected than any vaccinated person.

What was a revelation in the study however was that it found that roughly half (48%) of all patients considered to be hospitalized by COVID-19 may have been admitted for a completely different reason.

This is such a big story, and I’m sure it will be buried. After all, these truths won’t cause panic and fear.

If we remember, the widely used PCR tests to determine if any one of us are “positive” or “negative” are grossly inaccurate as the test itself isn’t designed to determine if we are “sick” or “infectious.” The New York Times published its own research last year identifying that the false positive rate for the tests is between 60–90%.

And here we have a nationwide scientific study that has determined that potentially half of all “COVID-19 hospitalizations” aren’t related to COVID-19 at all. Remarkable.

The recommendation to the medical community made by the scientists was telling, “Consideration should be given to updating the case definition of COVID-19 hospitalizations to better reflect cases of hospitalization caused by COVID-19.”

Well said.

Is it so much for us to ask that we, the people, have access to the data that represents the actual hospitalizations caused by COVID-19? Wouldn’t it be better for all of us to understand the actual burden of the virus rather than the grossly inaccurate COVID-19 case charts that we have been pummeled with for the last year and a half?

This study is fantastic, and it is great news. With 5.76 billion doses of vaccines administered globally, and widespread natural immunity throughout the U.S. and many other countries, we have a lot to be positive about.

And while I recognize that it may be wishful thinking, I’d like to hope that government organizations like the CDC will follow the scientific research and update case definitions so that we can understand what is actually going on.

This moonshot company is pioneering a brand-new class of medicines…

An early stage biotechnology company just caught my eye in a big way. I usually don’t get this excited, but when I see moonshot potential, it’s hard not to. The company is called Laronde, and it just raised an incredible $440 million in its Series B funding round.

This is one of the largest biotech funding deals of the year. In fact, it is one of the largest in history. And what makes this so incredible is that Laronde has been secretive about what it’s working on. The company just came out of stealth mode a few months ago.

Laronde is backed by Flagship Pioneering, one of the top venture capital (VC) firms in the biotech industry. And now we know why it’s getting so much attention behind closed doors – Laronde is pioneering what it calls “endless RNA” (eRNA) technology.

Regular readers are familiar with the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology that BioNTech (BNTX) and Moderna (MRNA) used to develop their COVID-19 vaccines. This led to explosive investment gains for both companies. As I write, BNTX is up 873% since the start of 2020. And MRNA is up 2,076% in that same time.

Well, we can think of eRNA as the next generation of RNA therapeutics. And its potential is far greater. Here’s why…

mRNA consists of a straight strand of RNA with a clearly defined beginning and end. And mRNA therapies “teach” cells in the body how to produce specific disease-fighting proteins.

eRNA therapies do the same thing. They teach the body to produce specific proteins to help fight disease. The difference is, eRNA is circular. It has no beginning and no end. Hence the name “endless” RNA.

The reason this is so important is that the circular shape prevents eRNA from latching onto ribosomes in the body. That’s what happens to mRNA therapies, and it effectively ends their therapeutic effect.

Here’s a visual:

“Endless” RNA

Source: Laronde

So the circular structure gives eRNA medicines the potential to have longer-lasting effects for patients. The therapies can work inside of the body for weeks, maybe even months, at a time.

And eRNA therapeutics can address a wide range of diseases. Laronde plans to focus on a dozen areas to start with, including genetic diseases, oncology, and dermatology. More specific information is not yet available, but we do know that Laronde’s early therapies have been successful in animal trials.

And get this – Laronde’s goal is to develop 100 new drugs over the next 10 years. That’s 10 new therapies a year. Talk about moonshot potential. And if there wasn’t substance in what Laronde is doing, it would have never been able to raise a $440 million round.

So Laronde is definitely an early stage company that’s swinging for the fences. If the company’s early success translates over into human clinical trials as well, we are looking at what could be the next Moderna. Laronde easily has 20-bagger potential.

This is a company that absolutely needs to be on our early stage watchlist.

The bright side of deepfake technology…

We have talked about deepfake technology several times before in The Bleeding Edge.

To bring new readers up to speed, deepfakes are altered media content. They are fake videos or audio where artificial intelligence (AI) is used to mimic a real person’s voice and/or image. Naturally, deepfakes can be used for all kinds of nefarious purposes. And we usually discuss the technology in that light.

However, a company called Hour One is positively using deepfake technology. And the company’s approach is quite interesting…

Hour One is basically hiring people to become AI characters. Anyone who wants to participate basically provides the foundation to train an AI for Hour One by speaking and making various facial expressions at different angles on camera.

This data is fed to the AI to create a digital character that looks and sounds just like the person who trained it. And believe it or not, the applications for this are immense.

If we think about it, many companies need to create a wide array of video content on an ongoing basis. This is content for marketing campaigns, product demonstrations, employee training videos, and more.

With Hour One’s AI characters, a company could simply feed the AI a script to create video content that comes across as lifelike and authentic. This would be dramatically cheaper than producing content the old-fashioned way with video production sets and human actors.

And the process would be nearly instant. Companies could crank out new marketing or training videos on demand.

And here’s what I find really interesting about all this…

Once Hour One has captured videos and facial expressions from individuals of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, and dialects, companies would be able to produce the exact same video content using different AI characters. Then they could choose which AI characters to deploy on a situational basis, based on what they think their audience would identify best with.

This is something that’s already done for phone calls. At some companies, customer service calls are automatically routed to the representatives who will communicate best with a given customer. There’s a lot of science behind this, and it leads to enhanced customer satisfaction.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this approach will be used for video content as well.

Think about it – why run a universal commercial in front of millions of viewers when you can easily tailor that commercial to each viewer based on what you know about them?

The same dynamic is true for employee onboarding. Companies can give specific training content to employees in a way that will be optimal for their own learning and understanding.

So this is a great application for deepfake technology. And I love that Hour One is leveraging the crowd by paying people to train its AI. This is an interesting model that I think will prove successful over time.

NFTs just keep printing money for holders…

As we talked about several weeks ago, Auction house Christie’s is selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection.

To bring new readers up to speed, NFTs are digital collectibles. They allow us to cryptographically secure and authenticate unique assets or data on a blockchain.

And the Bored Ape collection of NFTs consists of 10,000 images of bored-looking apes, often depicted on boats. As simple as it may sound, these NFTs have skyrocketed in value. Christie’s started the bidding at $100,000 for each Bored Ape NFT.

And things just got better for those holding them.

The Bored Ape Yacht Club created 10,000 vials of “mutant serum” and gave these vials to the people who own Bored Ape NFTs. From there, the serum recipients had a choice to make. They could either sell the serum on NFT platforms like OpenSea, or they could “inject” it into their Bored Ape.

Selling the serum would fetch about three Ethereum (ETH) per vial. That’s a little over $10,000 at today’s prices.

And by “injecting” their Bored Ape with this serum, holders could create a second NFT – this one depicting a “Mutant Ape.”

Here’s a before and after look:

Bored Ape Turning Into Mutant Ape

Source: nftevening.com

Click to Enlarge

Seems pretty strange, right?

Well, many of these Mutant Ape NFTs are selling for over 100 ETH on OpenSea right now. That’s over $340,000. And a few of these mutant NFTs are even listed at over 1,000 ETH. That’s over $3 million. Talk about a payday.

Many Bored Ape NFT holders cashed in. The new mutant ape NFTs netted over $96 million in sales in just the first hour. Incredible.

So this is just another example of how hot the NFT market is right now. And it’s safe to say that the top NFT collections like Bored Apes have surpassed digital collectible status. They are now status symbols in their own right.

With this kind of opportunity building in the NFT space, we need to keep this technology on our radar, even if it seems a bit unusual. We can clearly see NFTs drawing more and more attention – and attracting big money.

That’s why I prepared a presentation recently to discuss this trend… And help my readers learn how to invest. If you haven’t yet checked it out, I highly recommend going right here to watch.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

P.S. As one final note… If you pay any attention to Apple’s movements, then I have news you won’t want to miss. I’m busy preparing a confidential briefing about Apple’s latest announcement… A move that could lead to over $12 trillion in wealth being created.

This kind of event has only happened twice in the past 20 years… And this could be the biggest one yet. So if you want to find out all the details… Then please go right here to sign up to attend.

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