Author Archive for Pharmboy

CBD: Rising star or popular fad?

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CBD: Rising star or popular fad?

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CBD, made from hemp, is being hyped as treatment for pain, nausea and a variety of maladies. But studies so far do not show benefit in humans. ElRoi/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Jenny Wilkerson, University of Florida and Lance McMahon, University of Florida

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has become a household name. On many social media sites, people suggest “but have you tried CBD oil?” on posts pertaining to any health-related issue.

CBD, a minor constituent of marijuana, is widely touted as nature’s miracle by CBD enthusiasts. It does not get people high, unlike marijuana’s main constituent, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, given the recent surge in its popularity, you’d think the molecule is magic.

We are behavioral pharmacology scientists, and we study how drugs act on the body. Specifically, we have an interest in developing new drugs for the treatment of pain that possess lessened drug abuse potential, and therapeutic interventions for drug abuse. Although there is scientific interest in the use of CBD for both pain and drug addiction, as well as many other medical indications, there is a lot that we still do not know about CBD.

CBD and THC: How do they work?

Drugs affect the body by binding and acting at various protein molecules, usually on the surface of the cells in the body, called receptors. These receptors then send signals that can impact bodily functions.

Marijuana has an effect on the body because many animals have receptors termed “cannabinoid receptors.” There are two known cannabinoid receptors that are responsible for the effects of marijuana. Only one of them, the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R), is responsible for the high from marijuana. These cannabinoid receptors are predominately found on nerve cells located throughout the body, including the brain.

CBD doesn’t get people high because CBD does not bind or act on CB1R. CBD also does not bind or act on the other cannabinoid receptor, the cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2R), predominately found on immune cells. In contrast, THC binds and activates…
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Opening Pandora’s Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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Bacteriophage viruses infecting bacterial cells , Bacterial viruses. from www.shutterstock.com

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

Today, the scientific community is aghast at the prospect of gene editing to create “designer” humans. Gene editing may be of greater consequence than climate change, or even the consequences of unleashing the energy of the atom.

CRISPR is an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. This is the immune system that bacteria developed to protect themselves from infections by bacteriophages — the most abundant life form on the planet.

Smaller than any known life form

Bacteriophages were discovered in Paris by Felix d’Hérelle at the Pasteur Institute in 1917. He was studying a subset of patients spontaneously recovering from dysentery. D’Hérelle proposed that an antimicrobe smaller than any known life form had killed the bacteria in infected patients. He demonstrated conclusively the existence of this new life form, and named them bacteriophages: viruses that attack bacteria.

The bacteriophage has been studied intensely: its beauty was revealed with the electron microscope and its genome was the first life form sequenced.

Responding to a bacteriophage attack

In 2007, Rodolphe Barrangou and Philippe Horvath of the food production company Danisco collaborated with Sylvain Moineau of Laval University to solve a long-standing problem in yogurt production. They asked: Why were bacteria that were essential for the production of yogurt and cheese susceptible to bacteriophage attack, and how could this be prevented?

Barrangou, Horvath and Moineau made the astonishing discovery that bacteria actually had an immune system.

CRISPR: Acquired Bacterial Immune Systems.

After an initial bacteriophage attack, a small number of surviving bacteria would recognize the DNA of the newly attacking bacteriophages. The surviving bacteria would then mount an immune response leading to the death of the bacteriophages. The bacteria that survived a phage attack would embed a fragment of bacteriophage DNA within their bacterial genome to serve as a “memory” of the…
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China’s win-at-all-costs approach suggests it will follow its own dangerous path in biomedicine

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China's win-at-all-costs approach suggests it will follow its own dangerous path in biomedicine

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Megacity Shenzhen, as seen from Hong Kong, is a center for Chinese finance and tech. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Courtesy of Hallam Stevens, Nanyang Technological University

The world was shocked by Chinese scientist He Jiankui’s recent claim that he’d brought to term twin babies whose genes – inheritable by their own potential descendants – he had modified as embryos. The genetic edit, He said, was meant to make the girls resistant to HIV infection.

Scientists within China and across the world responded to the announcement with a mixture of incredulity and alarm.

But as a historian of biology who has closely followed biomedicine in China over the past few years, I was less surprised by these developments. Set within the context of China’s approach to biomedical ethics and its rampant global ambitions, He’s actions fit into a wider pattern of dangerous excess.

He Jiankui’s announcement included plenty of careful image cultivation. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Since He did not publish any of his results in scientific journals there’s no way of knowing yet whether his claims are true, false or exaggerated in some way. But what seems the most surprising outside of China is that He believed – gambled, perhaps – that his announcement would be met with congratulations and acclaim. Didn’t he know that he’d be condemned? Why take such a risk?

Different history frames what’s acceptable

China’s relationship to biomedical ethics is very different from that of the West.

In the West, after-the-fact condemnation of Nazi medical experiments, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and other patient abuses led to the rise of Institutional Review Boards that carefully regulate medical experimentation on humans. China has its own history of dubious medical research, including by Japanese scientists during World War II, but it didn’t result in the development of similar kinds of home-grown bioethics institutions.…
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Those designer babies everyone is freaking out about – it’s not likely to happen

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Those designer babies everyone is freaking out about – it's not likely to happen

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Babies to order. Andrew crotty/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy A Cecile JW Janssens, Emory University

When Adam Nash was still an embryo, living in a dish in the lab, scientists tested his DNA to make sure it was free of Fanconi anemia, the rare inherited blood disease from which his sister Molly suffered. They also checked his DNA for a marker that would reveal whether he shared the same tissue type. Molly needed a donor match for stem cell therapy, and her parents were determined to find one. Adam was conceived so the stem cells in his umbilical cord could be the lifesaving treatment for his sister.

Adam Nash is considered to be the first designer baby, born in 2000 using in vitro fertilizaton with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a technique used to choose desired characteristics. The media covered the story with empathy for the parents’ motives but not without reminding the reader that “eye color, athletic ability, beauty, intelligence, height, stopping a propensity towards obesity, guaranteeing freedom from certain mental and physical illnesses, all of these could in the future be available to parents deciding to have a designer baby.

The designer babies have thus been called the “future-we-should-not-want” for each new reproductive technology or intervention. But the babies never came and are nowhere close. I am not surprised.

I study the prediction of complex diseases and human traits that result from interactions between multiple genes and lifestyle factors. This research shows that geneticists cannot read the genetic code and know who will be above average in intelligence and athleticism. Such traits and diseases that result from multiple genes and lifestyle factors cannot be predicted using just DNA, and cannot be designed. Not now. And very unlikely ever.

Designer babies are next

The inevitable rise of designer babies was proclaimed in 1978 after the birth of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, as the next step toward “a brave world where parents can select their child’s gender and traits.” The…
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World’s first gene-edited babies? Premature, dangerous and irresponsible

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World's first gene-edited babies? Premature, dangerous and irresponsible

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Vchal/Shutterstock

By Joyce Harper, UCL

A scientist in China claims to have produced the world’s first genome-edited babies by altering their DNA to increase their resistance to HIV. Aside from the lack of verifiable evidence for this non peer-reviewed claim, this research is premature, dangerous and irresponsible.

He Jiankui from the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen (which has reportedly since suspended him) said he edited the DNA of seven embryos being used for fertility treatment, so far resulting in the birth of one set of twin girls. He says he used the tool known as CRISPR to delete the embryos’ CCR5 gene (C-C motif chemokine receptor 5), mutations in which are linked to resistance to HIV infection.

If true, this is a significant advance in genetic science, but there are some very serious problems with this news. First, the research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal so we cannot be sure of the exact details of what has been done. Instead, the scientist made the claims to the Associated Press news organisation, and the journalists involved haven’t been able to independently verify them. The parents of the allegedly gene-edited babies declined to be interviewed or identified.

Second, we know there can be significant problems with using existing gene-editing technology on human embryos. The main two issues are mosaicism, where the edited DNA does not appear in every cell of the embryo, and off-target effects, where other parts of the genome may also have been edited with unknown consequences.

Before genome editing becomes a clinical treatment, it is essential that scientists resolve both of these issues and eliminate other potential adverse effects on the embryo. We need comprehensive studies to show that genome editing is not going to cause harm to the future people it helps create. Any children born as a result of genome editing will also need long-term follow up. It would be vital to see the preliminary work that he has done to confirm that his technique…
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Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

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Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

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Breast cancer type 1 (BRCA1) is a human tumor suppressor gene, found in all humans. Its protein, also called by the synonym BRCA1, is responsible for repairing DNA. ibreakstock/Shutterstock.com

By Jay Shendure, University of Washington; Greg Findlay, University of Washington, and Lea Starita, University of Washington

More than 1 million women have had genetic testing of BRCA1 and BRCA2, genes in which mutations can dramatically increase the risk for early onset breast and ovarian cancer. But for many women the test results have been ambiguous. That’s because it’s not clear where certain genetic variations are harmless or cause cancer.

BRCA1 was amongst the first cancer predisposition genes discovered, and it has been studied for over 20 years. The gene produces a protein that repairs DNA damage, which might otherwise lead to the formation of tumors. Since its discovery, researchers and clinicians have identified many genetic variations in BRCA1, but for most of these, we are unable to tell whether they impair function of the gene – raising the risk of cancer – or whether they are perfectly harmless.

Our research team works in the emerging field of genomic medicine, which uses an individual’s genetic information to prescribe care. We recognized that such “variants of uncertain significance” limited the utility of genetic testing and the prospects for genomic medicine. We know that problem is likely to get worse, as the number of uncertain variants in BRCA1 and other “medically actionable” genes is expected to grow exponentially as genetic testing is expanded to entire populations.

In a study, we set out to apply CRISPR genome editing to solve the challenge posed by these variants of uncertain significance. CRISPR has tremendous potential because the technology allows researchers like us to tinker with human genes. CRISPR allows us to make very specific changes, “edits” to our DNA – thus the phrase, “genome editing.”

Although there are many studies that are attempting to use CRISPR to treat disease, it can also be used to introduce specific mutations into human cells that grow in a dish,…
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Cracking the sugar code: Why the ‘glycome’ is the next big thing in health and medicine

 

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Cracking the sugar code: Why the 'glycome' is the next big thing in health and medicine

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By molekuul_be/shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Emanual Maverakis, University of California, Davis; Carlito Lebrilla, University of California, Davis, and Jenny Wang, Yeshiva University

When you think of sugar, you probably think of the sweet, white, crystalline table sugar that you use to make cookies or sweeten your coffee. But did you know that within our body, simple sugar molecules can be connected together to create powerful structures that have recently been found to be linked to health problems, including cancer, aging and autoimmune diseases.

These long sugar chains that cover each of our cells are called glycans, and according to the National Academy of Sciences, creating a map of their location and structure will usher us into a new era of modern medicine. This is because the human glycome – the entire collection of sugars within our body – houses yet-to-be-discovered glycans with the potential to aid physicians in diagnosing and treating their patients.

Thanks to the worldwide attention garnered by the 2003 completion of the Human Genome Project, most people have heard about DNA, genomics and even proteomics – the study of proteins. But the study of glycans, also known as glycomics, is about 20 years behind that of other fields. One reason for this lag is that scientists have not developed the tools to rapidly identify glycan structures and their attachment sites on people’s cells. The “sugar coat” has been somewhat of a mystery.

Until now, that is.

While most laboratories focus on cellular or molecular research, our lab is dedicated to developing technology to rapidly characterize glycan structures and their attachment sites. Our ultimate goal is to catalog the hundreds of thousands of sugars and their locations on various cell types, and then to use this information to tailor medical therapies to each individual.

Why do we care about glycans?

In the future, it is likely that analysis of an individual’s glycans will be used to predict our…
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Diabetes: new test could detect the disease much earlier

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Diabetes: new test could detect the disease much earlier

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Egoreichenkov Evgenii/Shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Samuel Virtue, University of Cambridge

The glucose tolerance test is the standard method for detecting diabetes. But our new study suggests that a different test can identify the disease earlier than the glucose tolerance test.

Diabetes kills 3.4m people worldwide each year, and this figure is expected to continue rising. It kills people by causing secondary diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. And the longer diabetes remains untreated, the greater the risk of developing these diseases, so early detection is vital.

Diabetes is detected when the body can no longer regulate its own blood sugar levels. Blood sugar is controlled by insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. This hormone lowers blood glucose by making the body’s cells take it up, where it is stored or used for energy.

VectorMine/Shutterstock.com

There are two major forms of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where the body destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Type 2 is a progressive disease where the body first becomes resistant to insulin. Initially, the body makes more insulin to keep blood sugar levels in check, but the pancreas then wears out and blood glucose levels become dangerously high.

Fat as the new marker

In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin before diabetes develops. This made us wonder whether we could detect earlier stages of the disease, when the body is insulin resistant but before the pancreas has worn out and blood glucose levels have increased. We focused on investigating how the body becomes unresponsive to insulin. And to do so, we considered fat, not glucose.

Obesity is now established as the leading cause of type 2 diabetes. One of the main ways that obesity is thought to cause diabetes is by the body fat (adipose tissue) not working properly.…
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Approval of first ‘RNA interference’ drug – why the excitement?

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Approval of first ‘RNA interference’ drug – why the excitement?

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Single strands of ribonucleic acid (RNA) are now being used to treat disease. By nobeastsofierce / shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Thomas Schmittgen, University of Florida

Small interfering RNA sounds like something from a science fiction novel rather than a revolutionary type of medicine. But this odd-sounding new drug offers a novel strategy for treating disease by targeting the root cause rather than just the symptoms. This is an exciting approach because it enhances the effectiveness of the treatment and reduces side effects.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the very first therapeutic small interfering RNA (siRNA), Onpattro (patisiran), to treat nerve damage caused by a rare disease called hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis (hATTR). Hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis affects about 50,000 people worldwide. The major cause is the buildup of a protein called amyloid in the peripheral nerves, heart and other organs. Small interfering RNA was first described in 1998 and its discoverers were awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 2006. Twenty years later the discovery has been translated into a new form of medicine.

Proteins make up the largest structural and functional portion of our cells and tissues. The instructions to make a particular protein is encoded in our DNA. In order for the protein to be made, DNA must first be transcribed into an intermediate molecule called messenger RNA, which is then translated into a protein. Simply put, DNA makes RNA makes protein.

DNA encodes the instructions to make proteins. Inside the cell DNA is converted into RNA, which is then translated into a protein. By Fancy Tapis / shutterstock.com

A disease such as hATTR is caused by excessive amyloid protein. One solution to overcoming these defects is to limit the protein from being made in the first place.

That’s where siRNA comes in.

The beauty of RNA drugs like Onpattro lies in its specificity. Onpattro is a small stretch of RNA that “interferes” with its…
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Nanomedicine could revolutionise the way we treat TB. Here’s how

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Nanomedicine could revolutionise the way we treat TB. Here's how

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Nanomedicine could scupper the need for TB patients to take multiple daily tablets with toxic side effects. Daniel Irungu/EPA

Courtesy of Sarah D'Souza, University of the Western Cape and Admire Dube, University of the Western Cape

Tuberculosis is one of the world’s deadliest infectious disease. Worldwide, there are still about 10.4 million cases of TB and 1.7 million deaths every year.

One of the reasons it’s been hard to bring the disease under control is that the drugs used to treat it require a gruelling regimen and can be toxic. This means people very often don’t finish the course.

TB treatment lasts for six months and uses a combination of four antimicrobial drugs taken in large, daily amounts. The reason for the large daily dose is that these drugs are poorly absorbed; even when a drug gets to the infected site, only a portion of it will enter the affected tissue and fight the bacteria. They are also quickly eliminated from sites of infection by metabolic body functions.

These medicines also exhibit considerable toxicity such as liver damage, painful tingling in the hands and feet as well as joint pain. That’s because they don’t just target the infected areas of the body.

In some instances, the medicines are only available as injectables into the muscle, which is a painful procedure – and require daily clinic or prolonged hospital stays.

All of this leads to poor adherence to treatment among TB patients – and, ultimately, contributes to the generation and transmission of drug resistant TB strains. These are even harder to treat, with treatment lasting up to two years.

But there may be hope for TB treatment, in the form of nanomedicine. Tests are already being done on animals. And we are just two of many researchers from around the globe doing research at the nexus of nanomedicine and TB at the University of the Western Cape.

How nanomedicine works

Nanomedicine is the use of…
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Phil's Favorites

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

 

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

Recent revelations about the lack of privacy protections in place at the companies involved in Facebook’s new Libra crytocurrency raise concerns about how much trust users can place in Libra. (Shutterstock)

Courtesy of Alfred Lehar, University of Calgary

Facebook, the largest social network in the world, stunned the world earlier this year with the announcement of its own cryptocurrency, Libra.

The launch has raised questions about the difference between Libra and existing cryptocurrencies, as well as the implications of private companies competing with s...



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Digital Currencies

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

 

Buyer beware: How Libra differs from Bitcoin

Recent revelations about the lack of privacy protections in place at the companies involved in Facebook’s new Libra crytocurrency raise concerns about how much trust users can place in Libra. (Shutterstock)

Courtesy of Alfred Lehar, University of Calgary

Facebook, the largest social network in the world, stunned the world earlier this year with the announcement of its own cryptocurrency, Libra.

The launch has raised questions about the difference between Libra and existing cryptocurrencies, as well as the implications of private companies competing with s...



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Zero Hedge

What's Hot In Women's Fashion?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Via Global Macro Monitor,

Capitalism at its best or worst?

We have a few questions:

1)  Does the Tariff Man get a royalty for the sale of each dress sold, and will that violate the Emolumen...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Look Out Bears! Fed New QE Now Up to $165 Billion

Courtesy of Lee Adler

I have been warning for months that the Fed would need new QE to counter the impact of massive waves of Treasury supply. I thought that that would come later, rather than sooner. Sorry folks, wrong about that. The NY Fed announced another round of new TOMO (Temporary Open Market Operations) today.

In addition to the $75 billion in overnight repos that the Fed issued and has been rolling over since Tuesday, next week the Fed will issue another $90 billion. They’ll come in the form of three $30 billion, 14 day repos to be offered next week.

That brings the new Fed QE to a total of $165 billion. Even in the worst days of the financial crisis, I can’t remember the Fed ballooning its balance sheet by $165 bi...



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The Technical Traders

Is A Price Revaluation Event About To Happen?

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Skilled technical traders must be aware that price is setting up for a breakout or breakdown event with recent Doji, Hammer
and other narrow range price bars.  These types of Japanese Candlestick patterns are warnings that price is coiling into
a tight range and the more we see them in a series, the more likely price is building up some type of explosive price breakout/breakdown move in the near future.  The ES (S&P 500 E-mini futures) chart is a perfect example of these types of price bars on the Daily chart (see below).

Tri-Star Tops, Three River Evening Star patterns, Hammers/Hangmen and Dojis are all very common near extreme price peaks and troughs.  The rea...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

India About To Experience Major Strength? Possible Says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

If one invested in the India ETF (INDA) back in January of 2012, your total 7-year return would be 24%. During the same time frame, the S&P 500 made 124%. The 7-year spread between the two is a large 100%!

Are things about to improve for the INDA ETF and could it be time for the relative weakness to change? Possible!

This chart looks at the INDA/SPX ratio since early 2012. The ratio continues to be in a major downtrend.

The ratio hit a 7-year low a few months ago and this week it kissed those lows again at (1). The ratio near weeks end is attempting to...



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Insider Scoop

10 Biggest Price Target Changes For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Credit Suisse raised IHS Markit Ltd (NYSE: INFO) price target from $68 to $76. IHS Markit shares closed at $67.75 on Thursday.
  • Wedbush boosted Restoration Hardware Holdings, Inc (NYSE: RH) price target from $170 to $185. RH shares closed at $169.49 on Thursday.
  • Mizuho lifted Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) price target from $46 to $50. Seagate shares closed at $52.94 on Thursday.
  • UBS raised the price target for Weight Watchers Intern...


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Chart School

Crude Oil Cycle Bottom aligns with Saudi Oil Attack

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Do the cycles know? Funny how cycle lows attract the need for higher prices, no matter what the news is!

These are the questions before markets on on Monday 16th Aug 2019:

1) A much higher oil price in quick time can not be tolerated by the consumer, as it gives birth to much higher inflation and a tax on the average Joe disposable income. This is recessionary pressure.

2) With (1) above the real issue will be the higher interest rate and US dollar effect on the SP500 near all time highs.

3) A moderately higher oil price is likely to be absorbed and be bullish as it creates income for struggling energy companies and the inflation shock may be muted. 

We shall see. 

...

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Biotech

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

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

 

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Courtesy of  , Visual Capitalist

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless co...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

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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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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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