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1. ARK Invest Introduces a Framework for Evaluating Bitcoin’s Fundamentals

Bitcoin’s inability to fit neatly within the framework associated with traditional asset classes likely has prevented many institutional investors from adopting it. Instead of considering its unique attributes, skeptical investors seem to have concluded that Bitcoin (the blockchain) and bitcoin (the cryptocurrency) cannot be analyzed fundamentally. In this white paper, we illustrate how on-chain data offers a new framework for analyzing emerging monetary assets like bitcoin. As institutional investors gain exposure to bitcoin, we believe that ARK’s analysis of the network’s three data layers will enhance their understanding of and confidence in its underlying fundamentals.

 

2. Will Liquid Biopsies Accelerate the Pace of Clinical Trials for Solid Tumor Cancer Drugs?

Genome-based diagnostics and therapeutics are synergistic and could accelerate the time-to-market for emerging cancer therapies. Breakthrough therapies, for example, can add value to diagnostic tests, and novel diagnostics can aid in discovering and targeting therapies. Based on our research, minimal residual disease (MRD) tests––or liquid biopsies administered during and after cancer treatment––could accelerate the pace of clinical trials for novel cancer therapies.

Typically, researchers compare experimental therapies to established therapies on the basis of clinical endpoints like overall survival (OS) or progression-free survival (PFS) during clinical trials. Those trials often take years, sometimes five to seven years, before the OS and PFS data have time to develop.

MRD tests, in contrast, can detect trace amounts of cancer remaining after therapy and have become a standard of care for blood cancers, which account for roughly 10-15% of all new cancer diagnoses. MRD tests can predict future PFS as early as a few months after treatment, which has encouraged oncologists to recommend them as a surrogate endpoint for clinical trials. With wider MRD test adoption, drug companies could save years in the clinical trial process, potentially increasing biotech R&D efficiency and accelerating the rate of drug approvals.

While surrogate endpoints are becoming commonplace in blood cancer trials, newer MRD tests could play an important role in solid tumor trials, especially for slower growing cancers. We believe that trial designers should learn more about the relationship between MRD and OS/PFS to discern whether they should apply lessons learned from blood cancers to solid cancers.

 

3. Google’s New GLaM Mixture-of-Experts Model Reduces the Computation Necessary for AI Inference

In early December, Google announced GLaM, a 1.2 trillion parameter mixture-of-experts model significantly larger than OpenAI’s 175 billion parameter general language model, GPT-3. Unlike GPT-3, GLaM is a sparse, mixture-of-experts model within which submodels are specialized for different inputs. Importantly, while requiring more computation than GPT-3 during training, GLaM outperforms GPT-3 in natural-language generation and processing tasks, requiring less computation during inference.

As is typical in technology, trade-offs are associated with design. If scale matters most, the advantages of GLaM’s lower inference requirements could outweigh the disadvantages of its higher training requirements. Given the scale of its searches, for example, we believe Google might be willing to absorb higher training costs for large-scale search in exchange for lower inference costs on a per search basis.

 

4. China Launches the e-CNY Digital Yuan App

Earlier this week, the People’s Bank of China (PBC) released e-CNY, a standalone app for the digital yuan, in iOS and Android app stores. E-CNY is the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that China has been testing in domestic retail transactions and in cross-border transactions with Hong Kong, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates during the past year. The e-CNY app is launching in the face of ongoing regulatory actions against major Chinese tech, wealth management, and property companies.

According to media reports, the digital yuan will be available not only through six of the major state-owned banks but also through WeChat Pay and Alipay, each of whose digital wallets users totals more than one billion in China. We believe these distribution channels should accelerate the digital yuan’s adoption, particularly for peer-to-peer and retail payments. That said, China’s central government is likely to control the currency’s transaction ledger and identity management system.