Author Archive for Pharmboy

How summer and diet damage your DNA, and what you can do

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How summer and diet damage your DNA, and what you can do

File 20180710 70042 k19evn.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Bright sun and fatty foods are a bad recipe for your DNA. By Tish1/shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Adam Barsouk, University of Pittsburgh

Today, your body will accumulate quadrillions of new injuries in your DNA. The constant onslaught of many forms of damage, some of which permanently mutates your genes, could initiate cancer and prove fatal. Yet all is not doomed: The lives we lead determine how well our cells can handle this daily molecular erosion.

Certain cells are particularly at risk. Your skin, for instance, is constantly being bombarded by high-energy UV light that wreaks havoc on your DNA. This UV light should not be taken lightly — 1 in 5 Americans develops skin cancer in their lifetime, more than any other cancer. So as you’re hitting the beach with sugary margaritas in hand, remember that deadly skin cancer rates are at record-highs, as are cancers associated with obesity.

I am a medical student in Dr. Patricia Opresko’s lab at the University of Pittsburgh, which stands at the intersection of two Nobel Prize-winning disciplines: DNA repair and telomeres. Telomeres are protective regions at the ends of our chromosomes that hold the DNA together like the plastic cap on your shoelace. Her lab’s work is revealing the molecular machinery that repairs your telomeres after UV and metabolic (related to energy extraction from food) damage, and the many ways it can go awry.

Telomeres are protective caps on the end of chromosomes. By Fancy Tapis/shutterstock.com

Telomeres: Where chromosomes end and our research begins

In the minute you’ve been reading, hundreds of trillions of new lesions have occurred in your DNA. Fortunately, a special class of proteins is vigilantly detecting and repairing these errors.

Repair is particularly important in telomeres.

The telomere is no small thing, at least not figuratively: Their length is correlated with many symptoms of aging.…
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Opioids don’t have to be addictive – the new versions will treat pain without triggering pleasure

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Opioids don't have to be addictive – the new versions will treat pain without triggering pleasure

File 20180613 32313 rus66u.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

shutterstock.

Courtesy of Tao Che, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

The problem with opioids is that they kill pain – and people. In the past three years, more than 125,000 persons died from an opioid overdose – an average of 115 people per day – exceeding the number killed in car accidents and from gunshots during the same period.

America desperately needs safer analgesics. To create them, biochemists like myself are focusing not just on the opioids, but on opioid receptors. The opioids “dock” with these receptors in the brain and peripheral nervous system dulling pain but also causing deadly side effects.

My colleagues and I in Bryan Roth’s lab have recently solved the atomic structure of a morphine-like drug interacting with an opioid receptor, and now we are using this atomic snapshot to design new drugs that block pain but without the euphoria that leads to addiction.

What has caused the opioid epidemic?

In the U.S., more than one-third of the population experiences some form of acute or chronic pain; in older adults this number rises to 40 percent. The most common condition linked to chronic pain is chronic depression, which is a major cause of suicide.

To relieve severe pain, people go to their physician for powerful prescription painkillers, opioid drugs such as morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Almost all the currently marketed opioid drugs exert their analgesic effects through a protein called the “mu opioid receptor” (MOR).

MORs are embedded in the surface membrane of brain cells, or neurons, and block pain signals when activated by a drug. However, many of the current opioids stimulate portions of the brain that lead to additional sensations of “rewarding” pleasure, or disrupt certain physiological activities. The former may lead to addiction, or the latter, death.

Which part of the brain is activated plays a vital role in controlling pain. For example, MORs are also present in the brain stem,…
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Mind molding psychedelic drugs could treat depression, and other mental illnesses

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Mind molding psychedelic drugs could treat depression, and other mental illnesses

File 20180611 191959 1xq0kl3.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

By agsandrew/shutterstock.com

Courtesy of David E. Olson, University of California, Davis

It seems that psychedelics do more than simply alter perception. According to the latest research from my colleagues and me, they change the structures of neurons themselves.

My research group has been studying the effects of psychedelics on neuronal structure and function, and we found that these compounds cause neurons to grow. A lot. Many of these compounds are well-known and include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocin (from magic mushrooms), N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT, from ayahuasca) and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, aka ecstasy).

These are among the most powerful drugs known to affect brain function, and our research shows that they can alter the structure of the brain as well. Changes in neuronal structure are important because they can impact how the brain is wired, and consequently, how we feel, think and behave.

Prior to our study, there were relatively few compounds known to have such drastic and rapid effects on neuronal structure. One of those compounds was ketamine – a dissociative anesthetic and quite possibly the best fast-acting antidepressant that we have available to us at the moment.

If you think of a neuron like a tree, then its dendrites would be the large branches, and its dendritic spines – which receive signals from other neurons – would be the small branches. Some of these small branches might have leaves, or synapses in the case of a neuron. In fact, neuroscientists often use terms like “arbor” and “pruning” much like a horticulturist would. When we grew neurons in a dish – which is not unlike growing a plant in a pot – and fed them psychedelic compounds, the neurons sprouted more dendritic branches, grew more dendritic spines, and formed more connections with neighboring neurons.

The rainbow-colored neuron was treated with LSD, while the purple neuron was the control. LSD altered the structure of the neuron, allowing it to grow more branches


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We’re not prepared for the genetic revolution that’s coming

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

We're not prepared for the genetic revolution that's coming

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Shutterstock

Courtesy of Robert Chapman, Goldsmiths, University of London

When humans’ genetic information (known as the genome) was mapped 15 years ago, it promised to change the world. Optimists anticipated an era in which all genetic diseases would be eradicated. Pessimists feared widespread genetic discrimination. Neither of these hopes and fears have been realised.

The reason for this is simple: our genome is complex. Being able to locate specific differences in the genome is only a very small part of understanding how these genetic variants actually work to produce the traits we see. Unfortunately, few people understand just how complex genetics really is. And as more and more products and services start to use genetic data, there’s a danger that this lack of understanding could lead people to make some very bad decisions.

At school we are taught that there is a dominant gene for brown eyes and a recessive one for blue. In reality, there are almost no human traits that are passed from generation to generation in such a straightforward way. Most traits, eye colour included, develop under the influence of several genes, each with its own small effect.

What’s more, each gene contributes to many different traits, a concept called pleiotropy. For example, genetic variants associated with autism have also been linked with schizophrenia. When a gene relates to one trait in a positive way (producing a healthy heart, say) but another in a negative way (perhaps increasing the risk of macular degeneration in the eye), it is known as antagonistic pleiotropy.

There’s no single gene for eye colour. Shutterstock

As computing power has increased, scientists have been able to link many individual molecular differences in DNA with specific human characteristics, including behavioural traits such as educational attainment and psychopathy. Each of these genetic variants only explains a tiny amount of variation in a population. But when all these variants are summed together (giving…
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Organs-on-chips: Tiny technology helping bring safe new drugs to patients faster

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

Organs-on-chips: Tiny technology helping bring safe new drugs to patients faster

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It doesn’t look like a kidney, but this ‘kidney-on-a-chip’ is a breakthrough for new drug testing. Alex Levine, CC BY-ND

Courtesy of Catherine Yeung, University of Washington; Edward Kelly, University of Washington, and Jonathan Himmelfarb, University of Washington

Getting a new pharmaceutical from an idea in the chemistry lab to market takes many years and billions of dollars. Each year just several dozen new drugs are approved for use in the United States.

Human “organs-on-chips” are leading a revolution in drug safety testing. These devices use human cells to model the structure and function of human organs and tissues. By testing the potential effects of drugs on different organs faster than traditional methods, organs-on-chips can reduce the need for animal studies and better predict which new drugs will effectively treat human disease.

As part of an interdisciplinary research team, we’re working on a kidney-on-a-chip to improve our understanding of how kidney diseases begin and which drugs can safely treat them.

Quicker and better testing

Historically, laboratory testing for new drugs is performed in cells grown in dishes or flasks. If a drug passes initial screening tests in vitro, researchers next test it in vivo in live animals to determine the effects of a new drug on a whole system instead of just one cell type at a time. Finally, after many years of laboratory investigation, researchers will test a promising new drug in people to see if it is safe and effective.

The problem is 9 out of 10 of these drugs never make it from small-scale human tests to the patient because they turn out to be ineffective or toxic, even if they showed promising results in early testing.

Organs-on-chips have the potential to completely transform that system. Ranging from the size of a fingernail to that of a credit card, they’re composed of fluid channels and tiny chambers that contain human cell samples. Organs-on-chips in development in labs around the
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Could this be the year for a Canadian Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences?

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Could this be the year for a Canadian Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences?

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

In 2013, Kyoto University’s Shinya Yamanaka was awarded one of the first Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences for his discovery of “induced” stem cells that enabled researchers to convert adult cells back into stem cells.

The Breakthrough Prize is not to be sneezed at. Founded in 2013, the prize “honours transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.” It’s also the most financially attractive award in science, valued at US$3 million. And the winner is able to use the money as they wish.

That same year, Hans Clevers from the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht was separately awarded a Breakthrough Prize for his discovery of tissue stem cells and cancer.

It was actually three talented Canadian scientists, however — Charles Leblond, Ernest McCulloch and James Till — who first discovered stem cells.

Indeed, several talented Canadian researchers are deserving of this lucrative prize. Yet in the six years of its life so far, no Canadian has received it in the life sciences.

As the April 30 deadline for this year’s Breakthrough Prize nominations approaches, we have to ask why.

Who discovered stem cells?

Clevers readily acknowledges that his discovery in 2007 of the stem cell in the small intestine confirmed the prior seminal discovery of the same cell — by McGill University’s Leblond decades earlier.

Leblond may be the scientist who first discovered stem cells as based on his breakthrough paper on the “stem cell renewal theory.”

The breakthrough was first published in 1953 and considered by many to be as important a discovery as that published by Watson and Crick for the double helix the same year.

The link between stem cells and cancer is also a Canadian discovery. University of Toronto researcher John Dick discovered the cancer stem cell in 1994. Dick’s breakthrough was based on his use of a stem cell assay to study leukemia.

The stem cell assay he…
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Studying poop samples, scientists find clues on health and disease

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Studying poop samples, scientists find clues on health and disease

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Though examining poop samples scientists working on the American Gut Project are getting a new perspective on the microbes in our guts. By Christos Georghiou/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Daniel McDonald, University of California San Diego

Have you ever wondered what’s going on in your poop? Perhaps not. But this is precisely what we think about every day at the American Gut Project, the world’s largest microbiome citizen science effort, located at UC San Diego School of Medicine. And we don’t just think about it. We develop new cutting-edge analytical methods – in the lab and on the computer – to analyze the DNA and molecules that microbes make while living in your gut. Anyone can send us their poop, and we’ll tell them what’s going on!

But this probably still sounds pretty weird. Why would we want people to send us their waste? After all, normally you just flush it down the toilet. As it happens, the microbial ecology and molecular landscape of poop is incredibly complex, and we’re just starting to discover which microbes are critical to your health and why. Microbes are responsible for breaking down the fiber in your diet, and they produce critical nutrients, including one called butyrate that feeds the cells lining your gut. In the past decade, we and other researchers around the world have uncovered the consequences of disrupting this community of microbes on the incidence of disease.

Diseases linked to the gut microbiome now include obesity and Kwashiorkor (a severe form of malnutrition), liver disease, heart disease, and perhaps most surprisingly, even depression and Parkinson’s disease.

However, these studies focused on carefully selected individuals, which potentially excludes other kinds of microbes found in more diverse populations of people. And so we’re actively seeking out as many different kinds of poop samples as we can, collecting the lifestyle and health details from each participant, so we can uncover unknown connections between microbes and health and disease.

Who lives in your gut depends on the foods you eat


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Chemotherapy timing could influence how well the treatment works

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Chemotherapy timing could influence how well the treatment works

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By stu120/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Yanyan Yang, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Aziz Sancar, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Most living organisms – animals, plants, fungi, and even some types of bacteria – have an internal clock, a circadian clock that orchestrates the biochemical, physiological and behavioral functions in each cell according to a 24-hour day-night cycle. This clock regulates sleeping and waking, hormone levels, body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, among hundreds of other factors.

Our lab is studying how circadian clocks influence the repair of DNA in the cell – a natural process in which a team of enzymes travel along the DNA fixing breaks and errors caused by damaging effects of UV radiation and DNA-altering chemicals. Without these ever vigilant enzymes, our cells would accumulate mutations in our DNA that would lead to cancer and other diseases. Understanding this relationship between our body rhythms and DNA repair is important because there is mounting evidence that malfunctioning clocks are linked to conditions from obesity and epilepsy to insomnia and seasonal affective disorder.

In the Sancar Lab, we have been exploring how the circadian rhythms influence DNA repair during treatment with the popular anti-cancer drug cisplatin.

Cisplatin is used to treat most solid tissue cancers including testicular, ovarian, colorectal, lung and breast cancers. It kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA. However, it also damages DNA of normal cells, causing serious side effects that often force physicians to halt the treatment. Both normal and cancer cells repair the DNA damage caused by cisplatin. Successful treatment requires hitting cancer cells with DNA damage when they are least capable of repairing it, while sparing the healthy tissue.

In the past few decades scientists have attempted to use the circadian clock to guide the timing of cisplatin therapy. Their strategy was to give cisplatin at particular times and then monitor how the patient fared, thus revealing a time of day that yielded the greatest benefit with the least side effects. However, …
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Why marijuana fans should not see approval for epilepsy drug as a win for weed

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Why marijuana fans should not see approval for epilepsy drug as a win for weed

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Small vials of CBD, which some believe could be a cure for many ailments. Roxana Gonzalez/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Timothy Welty, Drake University

A Food and Drug Administration panel recommended approval of a drug made of cannabidiol on April 19 to treat two types of epilepsy. The FDA is expected to decide in June whether to accept the panel’s 13-0 recommendation to approve Epidiolex, which would would become the first drug made of cannabidiol, a compound in the cannabis plant, to gain approval from the FDA.

While the panel’s unanimous decision is not binding, the action will no doubt heighten public debate about the use of cannabidiol, medical marijuana, medical cannabis and hemp oil. Should cannabidiol, or CBD, or marijuana be legalized for medical purposes? What is the evidence that these products are beneficial? Are these products safe to use?

Those who support the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes might have found the timing of the panel’s ruling interesting. National Weed Day is April 20.

But weed is not cannabidiol, even though both come from cannabis.

As a professor of pharmacy with a special interest in epilepsy, I find it important that CBD may be a new option for the treatment of epilepsy. This new use has led me to carefully study published literature on CBD and discuss it as an option with patients who have epilepsy. Additionally, I have been involved with the American Epilepsy Society’s ongoing review of CBD as a possible treatment for epilepsy. From this perspective, I believe that CBD may offer benefits for patients with some types of epilepsy and possibly other disorders.

No high, but healing?

A cannabis leaf. The plant produces several compounds, one of which is CBD. Jiri Hawa/Shutterstock.com

The cannabis plant produces hundreds of different compounds, many of which have differing effects in the…
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How your brain is wired to just say ‘yes’ to opioids

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

How your brain is wired to just say ‘yes’ to opioids

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A Philadelphia man, who struggles with opioid addiction, in 2017. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Courtesy of Paul R. Sanberg, University of South Florida and Samantha Portis, University of South Florida

The mid-1980s was the era of cocaine and marijuana, when “Just Say No” was the centerpiece of the war on drugs and the government’s efforts to stem drug use and addiction. Since then, prescription opioids have become the nation’s drug scourge. The idea that mere willpower can fight this public health emergency is not only outdated, it’s scientifically misguided.

Medical history tells us that almost as long as there have been opioids – their use dates back to the third century – there have been opioid addicts.

Thirty years ago, I was a research scientist focused on addiction when I was asked to co-author a volume on prescription narcotics for the “Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs.” I wrote the same assessment of opioid abuse then that I would write today: For many people, opioids are substances their brains are wired to crave in ways that make personal resolve nearly impossible.

Your brain on opioids

Our understanding of the human brain’s mechanisms make a compelling argument for a national research effort to develop non-opioid painkillers and new medical devices to treat chronic pain, which remains the nation’s number one cause of disability. The good, if somewhat little noticed, news is that there is meaningful action on this front led by the National Institutes of Health, which is working in conjunction with pharmaceutical companies to develop nonaddictive, non-opioid pain killers that might finally end our somewhat tortured dependence on this formidable drug.

Brain scientists have known for decades that opioids are complex and difficult substances to manage when it comes to addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 20 percent of the patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and between 8 and 12 percent of those who use prescription opioids develop a use…
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Zero Hedge

This Is What Happens Behind Closed Doors When U.S. Presidents Meet With Fed Chairs

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Last week, Donald Trump ventured into what until recently was uncharted, for US presidents, territory.

First, during a CNBC interview, the president went so far as to say that the strong dollar "puts us at a disadvantage" then went on to do what so many consider anathema, and said he is "not thrilled" about the Fed rising rates "because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again."

One day later, Trump doubled down, ...



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Phil's Favorites

There Are 3 Main Theories That Explain Trump's Approach to Putin and Russia-Which One Makes the Most Sense?

Theory Time

Thom Hartmann suggests that the Manchurian Candidate theory is the least likely explanation for Trump's pro-Russia behavior in ...



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Insider Scoop

BofA Points To Yum China's Earnings Downside Risk In Downgrade

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related 31 Stocks Moving In Friday's Mid-Day Session Benzinga's Top Upgrades, Downgrades For July 20, 2018 ...

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Chart School

Small Caps Enjoy Best of Action

Courtesy of Declan.

There wasn't a whole lot going on today except Small Caps were able to attract some buyers despite finishing below resistance; bulls have been taking advantage of the 20-day MA test. Today's action coincided with 'buy' signals in the MACD and +DI/-DI.


The S&P held its breakout and today's losses - despite higher volume selling - didn't do a whole lot of damage.

...

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Digital Currencies

Citadel CEO Says Bitcoin Still A "Head Scratcher" But Billionaire Lasry Sees $40,000 Soon

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Ken Griffin, the CEO and founder of the Citadel hedge fund, has reiterated his negative stance on Bitcoin (BTC) in an interview with CNBC this morning.

Speaking at the Delivering Alpha Conference in New York, ...



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Biotech

How summer and diet damage your DNA, and what you can do

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

How summer and diet damage your DNA, and what you can do

Bright sun and fatty foods are a bad recipe for your DNA. By Tish1/shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Adam Barsouk, University of Pittsburgh

Today, your body will accumulate quadrillions of new injuries in your DNA. The constant onslaught of many forms of damage, some of which permanently...



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Mapping The Market

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

Via Jean-Luc:

Famed investor reflecting on his mistakes:

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

One that stands out for me:

Instead of focusing on how value factors in general did in identifying attractive stocks, I rushed to proclaim price-to-sales the winner. That was, until it wasn’t. I guess there’s a reason for the proclamation “The king is dead, long live the king” when a monarchy changes hands. As we continued to update the book, price-to-sales was no longer the “best” single value factor, replaced by others, depending upon the time frames examined. I had also become a lot more sophisticated in my analysis—thanks to criticism of my earlier work—and realized that everything, including factors, moves in and out of favor, depending upon the market environment. I also realized...



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ValueWalk

Buffett At His Best

By csinvesting. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Bear with me as I share a bit of my history that helped me create SkyVu and the Battle Bears games. The University of Nebraska gave me my first job after college. I mostly pushed TV carts around, edited videos for professors or the occasional speaker event. One day, Warren Buffet came to campus to speak to the College of Business. I didn’t think much of this speech at the time but I saved it for some reason. 15 years later, as a founder of my own company, I watch and listen to this particular speech every year to remind myself of the fundamentals and values Mr. Buffett looks for. He’s addressing business students at his alma mater, so I think his style here is a bit more ‘close to home’ than in his other speeches. Hopefully many of you find great value in this video like I have. Sorry for the VHS...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

The Stock Bull Market Stops Here!

 

The Stock Bull Market Stops Here!

Courtesy of Kimble Charting

 

The definition of a bull market or bull trends widely vary. One of the more common criteria for bull markets is determined by the asset being above or below its 200 day moving average.

In my humble opinion, each index above remains in a bull trend, as triple support (200-day moving averages, 2-year rising support lines, and February lows) are still in play ...



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Members' Corner

Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 Election: What you need to know (updated)

 

"If you want to fundamentally reshape society, you first have to break it." ~ Christopher Wylie

[Interview: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' – video]

"You’ve probably heard by now that Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by the borderline-psychotic Mercer family and was formerly chaired by Steve Bannon, had a decisive role in manipulating voters on a one-by-one basis – using their own personal data to push them toward voting ...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Promotions

NewsWare: Watch Today's Webinar!

 

We have a great guest at today's webinar!

Bill Olsen from NewsWare will be giving us a fun and lively demonstration of the advantages that real-time news provides. NewsWare is a market intelligence tool for news. In today's data driven markets, it is truly beneficial to have a tool that delivers access to the professional sources where you can obtain the facts in real time.

Join our webinar, free, it's open to all. 

Just click here at 1 pm est and join in!

[For more information on NewsWare, click here. For a list of prices: NewsWar...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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