The WC – Let’s cure cancer

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The WC is a selection of five useful, interesting & notable insights, handpicked by our CIO Wyatt Cavalier and pumped into your inbox every Wednesday.

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China’s Van Goghs

Tucked away in the Buji suburb of Shenzhen, China, there’s a tiny village of 10,000, called Dafen.

There, you’ll find the most remarkable thing — thousands of artists creating hyperrealistic replicas of Van Gogh, Dali, da Vinci, Rembrandt, and more:

All are for sale to tourists, hotels, galleries, restaurants, and more.

Anyone can have a pretty good replica of the Mona Lisa above their mantle for around $100.

You want a unicorn head painted on her shoulders? The artists take custom orders. You need 200 copies, one for every room in your hotel? No problem.

Your dead dog painted into Dogs Playing Poker? It’s been done.

It’s occurred to me that this is an ideal industry to be replaced by artificial intelligence, and it’s not far away.

In fact, it’s already being done.

Covid broke our kids’ brains…

Last week, you had to listen to how my kids have broken me. This week, you’ll learn how Covid has broken them.

According to a recently released study by the Stanford University, stress from the pandemic has physically aged children’s brains in a way that’s usually only observed when someone has been neglected or abused.

The consequences are uncertain, and it’s unclear whether or not these changes are permanent.

Will kids’ chronological ages catch up to their brains? Will the brain always be several years out of whack? Will they experience dementia and Alzheimer’s a decade earlier than they should?

…but perhaps shrews can fix them.

The shrew, is a remarkable animal and not just because it’s one of the planet’s only venomous mammals.

Because the shrew’s metabolism is so fast, it can’t hibernate through the winter like larger mammals (bears) can, which puts it at risk of starvation during the lean months.

So the shrew has come up with a clever solution to stay alive — its body absorbs around 25% of its brain, which reduces its caloric requirements when there’s less food around.

It has to trade a few IQ points to stay alive (tests show they’re worse at problem-solving in winter). However, in the spring, the animal just regrows its brain again.

Aside from being a scientific oddity, this remarkable brain-shrinking process happens to replicate what happens to humans who develop neurodegenerative illnesses (think multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and dementia). If scientists can figure out how exactly the shrews grow their brains back, they may be able to find a cure for those diseases.

A cure for cancer?

Sticking with medical breakthroughs, pharmaceutical company Moderna has used the same mRNA technology developed for the Covid vaccine to create a possible cancer vaccine. It works differently to typical vaccines:

  • First, it’s created to treat an illness rather than to prevent one. It induces the body to produce viral or tumor proteins, which the immune system can train on.
  • Second, every instance of the vaccine is unique — it’s tailored to the recipient’s genome, which must be sequenced before the drug is developed.

It’s the latest in an explosion of research breakthroughs facilitated by the decreasing cost of sequencing the human genome.

The vaccine reduced deaths in test patients by 44%, which is statistically and medically significant.

Keep an eye on this space — there will be much more to come.

A good year to run a fund

Finishing on a high note, over 55% of actively managed large-cap mutual funds will beat their benchmarks for the year, which is the biggest win since 2007, when 71% of funds did so:

It’s also the first time more than half beat the benchmark since 2009.

Statistically speaking, a shrunken-brained shrew throwing darts should beat the benchmark 50% of the time.

I’ll see you next week for a look at 2022’s worst investments. It’s going to be a banger.

Cheers,

Wyatt

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Picture of Wyatt Cavalier

Wyatt Cavalier

With a background in finance & intelligence analysis, Wyatt has an unhealthy obsession with finding the best blue chip investment opportunities. His previous newsletter, Fractional, resonated deeply with subscribers, bringing actionable insights and unconventional trading strategies. His rare book collection specializes in banned editions. He currently lives in Spain with his beautiful wife, three young boys, and dog Monty.

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