Author Archive for Pharmboy

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

File 20180724 194149 1a8cg12.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

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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Here’s what we know about CRISPR safety – and reports of ‘genome vandalism’

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Here's what we know about CRISPR safety – and reports of 'genome vandalism'

File 20180727 106505 1s3j5di.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

A standee of the movie ‘Rampage’ at a theater in Bangkok, Thailand. Scientists in the film used CRISPR to create a monster. By Sarunyu L/shutterstock.com

Courtesy of Jianhua Luo, University of Pittsburgh

A movie just recently released called “Rampage” features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson using a genetic engineering technology called CRISPR, to transform a gorilla, among other animals, into a flying dragon-monster with gigantic teeth. Though this is science fiction, not to mention impossible, the movie captures the imagination of the public and their recent interest and fascination with CRISPR.

CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, was originally part of bacterial defense system that evolved to destroy foreign DNA that entered a bacterium. But this system was also capable of editing DNA – and now geneticists have honed the technology to alter the DNA sequences that we specify. This has generated enormous excitement and great expectations about the possibility of using CRISPR to alter genetic sequences to improve our health, to treat diseases, improve the quality and quantity of our food supplies, and tackle environmental pollution.

But a few recent scientific papers suggest that CRISPR is not without its problems. The research reveals that CRISPR can damage DNA that is far from the target DNA we are trying to correct. As a cancer biologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, I use CRISPR in my lab to study human cancers and develop ways to kill cancer cells. Although the new finding appears significant, I don’t think that these revelations rule out using the technology in a clinical setting, but rather, they suggest we take additional cautionary measures as we implement these strategies.

Treating human diseases

CRISPR/Cas9 is being used to edit DNA in plants, animals, and in humans. But new studies are casting doubts about whether the technology is safe to use for human therapies. By TotallyMJ/shutterstock.com

Using genome editing…
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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

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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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Zero Hedge

Visualizing The 150 Apps That Power The Gig Economy

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Go back in time a decade, and you’d have a tough time convincing anyone that they would be “employed” through an app on their phone.

And yet, as Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins explains, in a short period of time, the emergence of the smartphone has enabled the gig economy to flourish into a multi-trillion dollar global market. And by leveraging apps like Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy, it’s estimated that ...



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Phil's Favorites

What's going on with Blue Apron?

By Ilene 

The Blue Apron business model appears, perhaps, flawed. While the service is convenient, I think it would appeal mostly to very busy people who don't have time to shop for food -- but enjoy cooking -- and have enough money that the trade off between paying for food delivery vs. spending time shopping is worth it. Here's the unfortunate stock chart and some numbers from Yahoo:

The company has been losing money, and is projected to lose money again next year. Revenue is projected to decrease in 2019 from the 2018 level, but pick up again in 2020, though still below 2018's revenue. Maybe a larger company that could integrate APRN's services into its existing infrastructure should acquire APRN and save it from its apparent...



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Chart School

Palladium minor cycle bottom

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Once again RealVision TV posts another trade idea, long palladium. We shall review it with our RTT cycle tools and parallel channels.







Any trader will be concerned with the supply shock at $1800 which pushed down price quickly. Profit taking maybe, sure! The question, is there more supply out (or more profit taking) there ready to dump on the market, either now or after any minor advance. This why waiting for the 'C' wave of the A-B-C to form over some more time is a good idea, and once done, we want to see solid buying moving price up before acting, after all we do not want to be early or a lonely bull (Richard Wyckoff logic). 

The parallel channel highl...

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Digital Currencies

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream - the battle is on to bring them under global control

 

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream – the battle is on to bring them under global control

The high seas are getting lower. dianemeise

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

The 21st-century revolutionaries who have dominated cryptocurrencies are having to move over. Mainstream financial institutions are adopting these assets and the blockchain technology that enables them, in what ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Banks Sending Bearish Message To Stocks, Says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Quality bull markets prefer to see Banks stronger than the broad markets or at least keeping up with it. Concerns often crop up when banks reflect relative weakness compared to the S&P.

This chart looks at the Bank Index (BKX) over the past few years, reflecting a falling channel of lower highs and lower lows has taken place inside of falling channel (1). This falling channel has now been in play for the past 15-months.

The index hit the bottom of the channel in December of 2018 and a counter-trend rally took place. The rally off the December lows saw the index hit the top...



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Insider Scoop

Analyst: US Sanctions 'May Not Kill Huawei'

Courtesy of Benzinga.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that limits how "foreign adversaries" conduct business with U.S. companies.

What Happened

The Department of Commerce said China's Huawei and 70 related companies will be included in the "Entity ...



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Biotech

DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

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

 

DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

A map of DNA with the double helix colored blue, the landmarks in green, and the start points for copying the molecule in red. David Gilbert/Kyle Klein, CC BY-ND

Courtesy of David M. Gilbert, Florida State University

...



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ValueWalk

More Examples Of "Typical Tesla "wise-guy scamminess"

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Stanphyl Capital’s letter to investors for the month of March 2019.

rawpixel / Pixabay

Friends and Fellow Investors:

For March 2019 the fund was up approximately 5.5% net of all fees and expenses. By way of comparison, the S&P 500 was up approximately 1.9% while the Russell 2000 was down approximately 2.1%. Year-to-date 2019 the fund is up approximately 12.8% while the S&P 500 is up approximately 13.6% and the ...



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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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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

Excerpt:

The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...



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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

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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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.

Market Shadows >>