Has Medicine Only Just Begun?

Consider the word ‘billion’.

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘billions of dollars’. We’re aware that there are billions of cells in our bodies. And we also know that India and China have populations of over one billion.

Despite how difficult it is to comprehend quantities this vast, these are all concrete values which we can imagine, albeit vaguely. Most of us will never see a billion dollars, nor people, but we do have a certain feel for what that might look like.

So what about time?

We know, and most of us believe, that the Earth is 4.543 billion years old. But although we have a feel for how long a year is, or even a decade, a billion years is a period of time which is truly incomprehensible to the ephemeral human minds that we have been given.

If you’re really, really lucky, you’ll be able to live 100 years, or approximately a 0.00000222% sliver of that.

In the scheme of things, our lives are a blip. A second. One that, despite how long it seems to us, is only long enough for us to reproduce, before we have to make way for the next round of people.

And even when you look at the timeline of human history, it’s only for the last few moments that we have really woken up.

For most of those billions of years, we’ve been in a daze like state. Not yet evolved, then not yet aware. It was only 4000 years ago that the pyramids in Egypt were built. And it was only 500 years ago that Columbus discovered America. That’s a mere five lifetimes.

Until very recently, not only did we not know anything about how we got here, but we didn’t know anything about ourselves. The legs that allowed us to walk and the minds that allowed us to philosophise were as unknown to us as the stars.

Fortunately, during the 100 years that some of us are given, or in Charles Darwin’s case, the 73 years, we have been able to discover some of the keys to our existence. We’ve been able to progress, to read, to write, to build, and to quantify time and energy.

It’s these discoveries that have paved the way for a better understanding of the bodies and planet we inhabit. And it’s these revolutions in our thinking that have been particularly important for the field of medical science.

Before Charles Darwin, the dominant belief was that an omnipresent creator had bestowed the Earth with its variety of life. He, the paternal figure, always and simultaneously loving and judging us, was the sole reason we’re all here today. 

Of course, no evidence existed to support this view, nor does any exist today. But it was the best we could come up with.

It’s for this reason that Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection was so ground-breaking. It was one of the first real attempts at explaining our existence with scientific evidence. And the idea that we evolved from our bacterial and animal ancestors eventually became the foundation for all biological sciences.

Because Darwin dared to rival the divine, we now have evidence that explains the origin of our species. And considering his research was only published in 1859, we still have a lot to learn about why we’re floating here on this rock.

As we leave the realm of faith behind — continuing our quest inwards to discover what makes our bodies tick, and what has the capacity to destroy them — our medical practices become more advanced.

In the short amount of time that we have been truly awake, we have already made significant steps. Discoveries in modern medicine like the double helix, DNA sequencing, and beneficial bacteria were once unprecedented leaps into the unknown. Nowadays, they’re the cornerstones of modern biology, functioning as launching pads for further research.

Right now, we’re entering the next stage of medicine, which appears to be the fusion between technology and biology. Through genomics, or the analysis of genes, we now have the ability to treat patients in a way that is tailored to be effective to their specific genetic makeup. When you add technology to that mix, we can create biotech that is able to take this precision even further.

As investors, it is this developing technology which should be of great interest. The biotech industry has only just begun, and there is plenty of opportunity to take advantage of. The gains made from the spin-off stocks from the Human Genome Project, which began in 1990, were monumental. And with the new advances in biotech, we could see this happen again.

Keep a look out for Ryan Dinse’s latest investment report which will be released on Tuesday next week. In it, he outlines how to make the most of a new project which is set to completely revolutionise medicine in a way which hasn’t been done since the discovery of antibiotics. This project, along with the blockchain technology behind it, could be one of the biggest opportunities for investors this decade. So keep an eye on your inbox, and I’ll cover more on this next week.

This week in Markets & Money:

Trump’s untactful way with words has been getting him into hot water lately. Particularly after his run in with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 conference. With Canadians expressing their anti-Trump fervour by boycotting American products, this could lead to a trade war. And as Selva wrote on Monday, this could mean another blow to the US’s global reputation.

To read the full story, click here.

Across the globe, we are seeing a decline in the purchasing of housing. Clearance rates are down, total sold values are decreasing and real estate jobs are being cut. The main reason for this decline is it’s becoming harder to get credit. And based on precedent, this could be a sign of a housing crash to come. So as Selva wrote on Tuesday, if you’re thinking about buying a property, you might want to postpone your plans…

To find out more, click here.

Then on Wednesday, Selva covered the debate currently underway about Australian tax cuts. Both Liberal and Labor are looking at the cuts as a way to stimulate wage growth, and to jump start consumer spending. But with property prices falling, consumer spending probably isn’t going to increase anytime soon.

To learn more, click here.

On Thursday, the trade war continued. After US President Donald Trump passed a 25% tariff on US$ 50 billion worth of Chinese goods, China decided to retaliate. And as tension increases, investors seem to be flocking to one sector in particular.

To read the full story, click here.

If you live in Melbourne, you might think we are spoilt for coffee choices. But in Spain, they rival us in terms of coffee quality and the variety of choices. As Selva wrote on Friday, in places where coffee is an important cultural item, how much we spend on our favourite caffeinated beverages can be a good indicator of economic conditions. And as the sales growth of certain coffee chains has been extremely slow, this might indicate worse conditions to come.

To read more, click here.

Until next week,

Katie Johnson,
Editor, Markets & Money

Katherine Johnson, usually going by just ‘Katie’, is a member of Port Phillip Publishing’s editorial team, as well as the Editor of the Saturday edition of Markets & Money. Katie works with all of your editors to maintain the quality of their research and analysis. In her Saturday Markets & Money articles she specialises in cryptocurrency and technology stories, and brings you a recap of the week from your other Markets and Money editors.

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