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The Next Cancer Cure: Gene Therapy

Nearly one in ten people are expected to develop a genetic disease as a consequence of carrying defective genes. More than 7,000 distinct rare diseases exist, and approximately 80 percent are caused by faulty genes. And, of the rare diseases, 50 percent of the people affected are children, making rare diseases one of the most debilitating for children worldwide.   This focus on curing diseases via the use of what is called “gene therapy” has evolved into of the most exciting developments in medical research. By correcting an underlying genetic defect, gene therapy can provide for transformative effects based on only a single treatment.   What is gene therapy? In the simplest terms, gene therapy involves the replacement of a gene that is defective. The process involves the packaging of a functioning copy of the defective gene into a viral vector. This vector is based on a naturally occurring virus (such as HIV), which has been modified so that the virus cannot spread within the person’s body. A virus has a natural ability to introduce genes into human cells, and thus, its role in the delivery of the gene is critical in the gene therapy process. This vector acts as the delivery mechanism for transporting the functioning gene into the blood stem cells taken from the patient. Rather than offering solutions that only address a patient’s symptoms, gene therapy corrects the underlying genetic defect that is the actual cause of the disease.   The first out-and-out-cure: During 2016, Italian scientists at Milan’s San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy reported that they had cured 18 children of a rare but terrible immune deficiency disease, ADA-SCID. They removed the children’s bone marrow, added a gene to make the ADA enzyme their bodies lack, and replaced it. It took 14 years to develop and test and was approved in May of last year in Europe.   Rewiring the Eye: RetroSense, a company that was quickly acquired by Allergan (AGN) for $60 million is currently injecting genes from light-sensing algae into the eyes of a blind person. This was the first time a whole gene from a different species had been used in a human being. It was also the first test in a human of optogenetics, the technique of using light and gene therapy to control nerve cells.   From Gene Replacement to Gene Editing: Today’s gene therapy is about adding genes, to replace one in your body that isn’t working.  Gene editing could be a way to erase such diseases, with a one-time, permanent alteration of a person’s DNA. A scientific resolute, known as the CRISPR technique is often likened to a “search and replace” function for DNA.   It’s a step beyond conventional gene therapy— The gene for dystrophin, for instance, is too large to fit inside a virus, as CRISPR’s DNA-snipping proteins can. And sometimes a faulty gene that’s doing harm needs to be silenced, so adding a new one won’t help. CRISPR’s ability to delete and swap out genetic letters makes a huge new range of treatments possible. Some doctors are now calling CRISPR “gene therapy 2.0.”   In early-stage lab experiments, academic scientists are showing that gene editing offers new ways to attack cancer, to knock out HIV and hepatitis infections, even to reverse blindness and deafness. Companies aren’t far behind. Three startups in the Boston area have already raised a combined $1 billion and partnered with some of the world’s biggest drug companies, like Bayer (BAYN) and Novartis (NVS).   CAR T-cell therapy in cancer: Another exciting development in gene therapy involves the use of the patient’s own immune system to fight off cancer. Known as CAR T-cell therapy, the process involves genetically engineering a patient’s T cells outside the body to produce special receptors called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). Thus far, there has been tremendous progress made with CAR T-cell therapy as it relates to treating blood cancers. Because of this, many of the bigger biotech companies have been scrambling to partner with specialists in the space. Celgene (CELG) announced a $1 billion deal with Juno Therapeutics (JUNO) to collaborate on several CAR T-cell cancer therapies. The big question is whether or not the early indications for success in blood cancer can translate to successful treatment of solid tumors.   The optimism is based not only on the game-changing potential for the related therapies, but also for the need of big biotechnology companies to diversify their portfolios and how this could lead to more M&A activity in the space. .   Although the gene therapy field has had its share of ups and downs, this once-questionable method of treating diseases now seemingly has the potential to become one of the most game-changing advancements in medical history.
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INVESTMENT FEES: HOW MUCH IS YOUR ADVISOR CHARGING YOU?

It’s always a good idea to check exactly how and how much you are getting charged in fees from your investment advisor in relation to your wealth management strategies. If your advisor is on a Fee-Only basis, then they are getting paid only for the advice they give. They do not earn commissions by selling financial products such as life insurance or mutual funds. However, they tend to focus on only the assets under their control, which usually means ignoring your big financial picture.   Dual-registered advisors earn fees from advice and they may make commissions on some of the products they sell, while Commission-Based advisors make money only from the products sold. In these two areas, be aware of what the standard fee is when your advisor wants to make a purchase.   Many advisors hire other advisors to choose assets like mutual funds for them, which they then turn around and sell you. These means you are paying for your advisor, at least one more advisor you know nothing about, and the standard fees associated with the product you are buying.   In the long run, these stacked costs can have the negative effect of chipping away at your wealth accumulation. Talk to your advisor to see what fee-plan they utilize so you can get an idea of what to expect on your next statement, and possibly, what change in the investment plan you need to apply.   As a private investment group specializing in wealth management, Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. offers a proprietary trading platform, alternative investment offerings and dedicated advisory support for our clients. For more information, please visit www.midwest-wealth.com.
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Gene Therapy

Nearly one in ten people are expected to develop a genetic disease as a consequence of carrying defective genes. More than 7,000 distinct rare diseases exist, and approximately 80 percent are caused by faulty genes. And, of the rare diseases, 50 percent of the people affected are children, making rare diseases one of the most debilitating for children worldwide.   This focus on curing diseases via the use of what is called “gene therapy” has evolved into of the most exciting developments in medical research. By correcting an underlying genetic defect, gene therapy can provide for transformative effects based on only a single treatment.   What is gene therapy? In the simplest terms, gene therapy involves the replacement of a gene that is defective. The process involves the packaging of a functioning copy of the defective gene into a viral vector. This vector is based on a naturally occurring virus (such as HIV), which has been modified so that the virus cannot spread within the person’s body. A virus has a natural ability to introduce genes into human cells, and thus, its role in the delivery of the gene is critical in the gene therapy process. This vector acts as the delivery mechanism for transporting the functioning gene into the blood stem cells taken from the patient. Rather than offering solutions that only address a patient’s symptoms, gene therapy corrects the underlying genetic defect that is the actual cause of the disease.   Development in recent years has been encouraging, including the first gene therapy product approval in 2012—uniQure (QURE) gained approval for Glybera, a gene therapy product for a rare, fat-processing disease called LPLD (lipoprotein lipase deficiency). In addition, Bluebird Bio (BLUE) has made tremendous progress in studies for the treatment of several inherited blood disorders.   CAR T-cell therapy in cancer. Another exciting development in gene therapy involves the use of the patient’s own immune system to fight off cancer. Known as CAR T-cell therapy, the process involves genetically engineering a patient’s T cells outside the body to produce special receptors called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). Thus far, there has been tremendous progress made with CAR T-cell therapy as it relates to treating blood cancers. Because of this, many of the bigger biotech companies have been scrambling to partner with specialists in the space. This past June, Celgene (CELG) announced a $1 billion deal with Juno Therapeutics (JUNO) to collaborate on several CAR T-cell cancer therapies. The big question is whether or not the early indications for success in blood cancer can translate to successful treatment of solid tumors. Other big players in the CAR T-cell therapy space include Novartis (NVS) and Kite Pharma (KITE), which is also working in tandem with Bluebird on CAR T-cell therapies for HPV-associated cancers.   The optimism is based not only on the game-changing potential for the related therapies, but also for the need of big biotechnology companies to diversify their portfolios and how this could lead to more M&A activity in the space. Celgene’s (CELG) $1 billion deal with Juno and its recently announced acquisition of Receptos (RCPT) for $7 billion is only one recent example of a company trying to spend to boost its pipeline.   Although the gene therapy field has had its share of ups and downs, this once-questionable method of treating diseases now seemingly has the potential to become one of the most game-changing advancements in medical history.
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Executives are seeing green: How wealth managers are leveraging sustainable investing.

Wealth managers can put together portfolios designed to accommodate various investment objectives. For example, take green investing—or Sustainable investing. Sustainable investing is definitely a hot investment development and a practical one too. This type of investing targets companies and industries who are creating products for consumers that do not deplete or destroy natural resources to ensure the future health of our planet. Many of these companies are dedicated to specific environmental objectives, such as reducing carbon emissions and generating alternative energy sources while seeking market-rate returns for investors. With the right advisor and plan, socially conscious investors can reap financial rewards from a sound and sustainable investment, and the advisor can fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to both the client and the environment. To learn more about alternative investing and the opportunities these investments present, please visit us at Midwest-wealth.com. You can also download our free eBook entitled: The Alternative Investor, a guide book for alternative investments by Greg Shields, President of Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. As a private investment group specializing in wealth management, Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. offers a proprietary trading platform, alternative investment offerings and dedicated advisory support for a select audience. For more information, please visit www.midwest-wealth.com. Investing in the stock market involves gains and losses and may not be suitable for all investors. The investment’s socially responsible focus may limit the investment options available to the investment and may result in returns lower than those from investments not subject to such investment considerations. REFERENCE: Sustainable Investing: a Fiduciary Win-Win by Michael Mullins, April 28, 2015, wealthmanagement.com. mwm_blogbanner
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The risks and the rewards: the critical role investment management plays in your retirement.

The better the investment management strategy that you formulate with your wealth manager, the greater likelihood of the desired result. Accumulating wealth for retirement may be achieved by investing across a diverse investment platform based on both traditional and non-traditional assets. When considering alternatives, because of their complexity, extensive research on the investment alternatives must first be established, preferably by an experienced advisor. If deemed favorable, buying into these alternative investments for the long term can offset the volatility seen in typical stocks and bonds to offer a more diversified portfolio. These types of investments can have a positive influence on a portfolio when the market is down. And when the market is up, their non or low correlation to the stock market can be a positive in the long term. It is also important to remember some hard and fast rules in your investment management strategy to help ensure you generate enough retirement income to fund your needs in the future: - Make sure that you provide for an investment allocation strategy that is synchronized with your financial needs and lifetime goals - Maintain a diversified and balanced portfolio - Assess the risk in your portfolio and evaluate whether that’s appropriate, considering your investments objectives and tolerances And most importantly, stay active in your retirement planning. You may have retired from work, but you never retire from making good financial strategies. Although the choice to start you Social Security may be in your hands, anticipating such unexpected costs regarding health care and other non-fixed factors may not be, so it is important to understand the consequences of these type life-alternating paths may have on your wealth accumulation. If you have any questions about wealth management and its effect on retirement income, we invite you to learn more at www.midwest-wealth.com. As a private investment group specializing in wealth management, Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. offers a proprietary trading platform, alternative investment offerings and dedicated advisory support for a select audience. For more information, please visit www.midwest-wealth.com. Asset allocation programs do not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. No program can guarantee that any objective or goal will be achieved Investing in alternative investments may not be suitable for all investors and involves special risks, such as risk associated with leveraging the investment, adverse market forces, regulatory changes, and illiquidity. There is no assurance that the investment objective will be attained. mwm_blogbanner
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The role of alternative investment products in wealth management firms

Ben Franklin is famous for his line, “nothing is certain except death and taxes,” and any wealth management firm will tell you that gains from alternative investment products are indeed not a certainty. However, alternative investments may be a good addition to your asset allocation and wealth accumulation strategies- depending on your risk tolerance and portfolio objectives. Because of their complexity, alternative investments are usually handled by a qualified investment advisor, preferably one who is supported by a professional advisory team to help them seek alternative investments with various characteristics and objectives. Alternatives also are valued for the many different choices they offer for wealth accumulation and cover a wide range of investment styles. For investors who want more liquidity, a good choice might be alternatives which are traded actively. These have a wide variety of approaches that can use long positions, utilize short-selling transactions or leverage the funds to generate returns. At the other extreme are the assets that are locked up for years —such as private equity. These types of assets are illiquid, and because of their hands-off nature they become difficult to evaluate in a long-term strategy. This is where an experienced investment advisor can help by assessing the valuation properly and determining if the risk of the asset and the potential gains might be suitable choice for an investor’s portfolio. Even with their complexity, alternative investments offer the advantages of a diversified revenue stream while providing more balance by reducing the return to risk ratio, giving the savvy investor more opportunities for wealth accumulation in this non-traditional market. For more information about alternative investments, you can also visit our website at www.midwest-wealth.com. While you’re there, you can get even more alternative investment information by downloading our free eBook entitled: The Alternative Investor, a guide book for alternative investments by Greg Shields, founder and CEO of Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. As a private investment group specializing in wealth management, Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. offers a proprietary trading platform, alternative investment offerings and dedicated advisory support for a select audience. For more information, please visit www.midwest-wealth.com. Investing in alternative investments may not be suitable for all investors and involves special risks, such as risk associated with leveraging the investment, adverse market forces, regulatory changes, and illiquidity. There is no assurance that the investment objective will be attained. Private equity investments have special and significant risks and are not suitable for all investors. The majority of private equity consists of institutional investors and accredited investors who can commit large sums of money for long periods of time. Private equity investments often demand long holding periods to allow for a turnaround of a distressed company or a liquidity event such as an IPO or sale to a public company. There is no assurance that the investment objective will be attained. mwm_blogbanner
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Why a REIT might be right for your portfolio. Real estate Tips from an Indianapolis wealth advisor.

A corporation that owns and manages income-producing real estate is called a REIT, or a Real Estate Investment Trust, and it is one of many strategies that savvy Indianapolis wealth advisor, Greg Shields, uses in a well thought out wealth accumulation plan. REITs are designed to provide portfolio diversification and offer the investor a gateway to invest in a variety of different classes and types of real estate. REITs may pay out a high percentage of their taxable income to shareholders and this income is acquired mostly from a reasonably stable and consistent flow of contractual rents paid by the tents living in the REIT-owned properties. “However, what should be done and what will be done can be very different things,” cautions Shields, “as the distribution amount is not guaranteed and may change with market conditions, such as the negative long-terms effect of income on rental rates.” Some would rather invest after the REIT has started to build a portfolio, which allows the advisor to use the portfolios transparency of its holdings to guide their decision. This determination is made much easier if the securities of a REIT are registered with the SEC, because the REIT is obligated to make regular disclosures, including quarterly and yearly financial reports. You can easily acquire REIT shares on public exchanges, which gives them higher liquidity benefits compared to other alternative investments. If high levels of continuing income and the opportunity for long-term growth from a REIT seem like a viable alternative for your investing needs, we invite you to learn more by visiting us at www.midwest-wealth.com. As a private investment group specializing in wealth management, Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. offers a proprietary trading platform, alternative investment offerings and dedicated advisory support for a select audience. For more information, please visit www.midwest-wealth.com. A nontraded real estate investment trust (REIT) is a REIT that is not traded on any public stock exchange. Nontraded REITs are generally illiquid securities for which no public market exists. As such, investors may be unable to liquidate the security at any price. You should consult with your financial advisor and carefully consider your short-term and long-term liquidity needs. Real estate investments are subject to a high degree of risk because of general economic or local market conditions; changes in supply or demand; competing properties in an area; changes in interest rates; and changes in tax, real estate, environmental, or zoning laws and regulations. Real estate units/shares fluctuate in value and may be redeemed for more or less than the original amount invested. There is no assurance that the investment objective will be attained. Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets, and diversification cannot guarantee that any objective or goal will be achieved. mwm_blogbanner
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Can you afford to live longer? Life Expectancy

Americans are living longer than ever before. Not just those who are born today, but for those who are able to make it to benchmark ages like 50, 65 and 70. Much of this is attributed to the medical advancements in cardiovascular disease and cancer treatments, but also to our ability as a society to stay active and healthy later into life. Just since the year 2000, life expectancy has increased 2 years.[1]   We illustrated a scenario to help see what effect living even 3 or 5 years longer than expectancy would have on a retirement plan. For simplicity’s sake, this couple is starting with $2 million in investable assets, with plans for moderate investment objects and Social Security income. We assumed annual spending, after tax, of $120,000 for all expenses.   What does an extra 3 or 5 years mean to you? Age: 65 Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 11.48.59 AM There are numerous studies that detail how unprepared most Americans are for retirement. The studies site the lack of savings or having a financial plan in place. Our client base has not typically exhibited these same symptoms, as their career successes has led them to worry about issues such as succession and estate planning. Regardless of their intuition about their ability to comfortably retire, we always maintained the stance that as wealth managers it was important to quantify their intuition- often times the client was right.   Within the last 5 years we started to see a swing in that mindset, as more clients realized they were coming across unanticipated expenses:   • Educational costs for their children and grandchildren inflated at historic rates • Care for adult parents started to eat away at savings • Children temporarily returned to live at home after college because of a soft job market • Personal medical expenses have become very steep with insurance reform   Our firm prides itself on the importance of knowing where you stand at all times, regardless of your intuitive confidence level. At Midwest Wealth Management, Inc., we developed a unique program to provide an alternative route to wealth creation and protection. The Investors Access Program™ begins with the Interview step to lay the foundation for a successful collaboration. After client objectives are identified and assessed, a focused strategy is engineered and launched to address their unique opportunities and challenges. Advanced training and industry knowledge —coupled with a superior service model for optimal performance—enhance the process and provide unparalleled support to each client throughout the 5-stage program.   Periodic updates with your financial professional should be mandated in your relationship to help ensure all updates and changes are properly represented. Your life is a non-static and ever-changing story, so you should have a plan that reflects that. Do not be afraid to ask your advisors the tough questions, especially when it comes to the life expectancy of you or your spouse and how longevity impacts your plan.   [1]OECD Health Statistics 2014
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Where is the price of Oil Heading?

The extreme price decrease of oil from summer 2014 to January 2015 has made headlines everywhere. From Wall Street to Main Street, everyone has felt the effects when the price of this commodity has lost over half its value in such a short time. What has really been the topics of discussion is why exactly this dramatic price decreased has happened and is it a good or bad thing? We believe there is no simple answer to these questions. As industry specialists and experts have all been giving their interpretation on what and why it has happened, we prefer to focus on what consumers and companies are doing as a result of this significant change. • Only 10 states have employment directly impacted by the oil boom. Less than 2% of the U.S population is employed in the oil and gas industries • For the average U.S. person, it is like getting a tax break of almost $2,000 a year, so it puts a lot of dollars into the economy. • Oil and gas companies laying down rigs at a very quick rate. • Capital expenditure budgets for all oil companies are being slashed for 2015. • There is potential for demand of oil to increase with European quantitative easing programs beginning. As you have with any major event, analysts and experts are brought into the main stream media to enlighten the retail consumers on “what you must know.” The oil market is certainly not in a shortage of these, with each making their respective case for where the price of oil will go. These price predictions can be the result of fundamental macro analysis, technical projects or analytical industry insight. Goldman Sachs is not only highly regarded across the financial sector, but their word comes with heavy weight within the oil industry. We decided to analyze some of their past predictions during times of heavy swings to help our clients get a better grasp of how accurate these top professionals have previously been. Date Predicted Time Frame Price at Time Predicted Price Actual Price Date 3-7-2008 End of 2008 $105.15 $150.00-200.00 $37.71 12-26-2008 10-13-2008 End of 2008 $81.00 As low as $50.00 $37.71 12-26-2008 12-12-2008 End of 2009 $46.28 Below $45.00 $79.36 12-31-2009 10-28-2014 End of 2014 $80.54 Below $80.00 $54.73 12-26-2014 1-12-15 First Quarter 2015 $48.00 $42.00 $50.00* 2-20-2014* *Last price before article publish on 2/20/14 As you can see they have a less than stellar record of predicting prices during times of extreme moves and we expect this situation to be no different. We do not believe anyone should be claiming to predict with any degree of accuracy what the price will be in 3, 6 or 12 months. There are just too many factors and players involved to properly quantify this number. What we do believe is that when we see this type of movement, this quickly, there has been a dislocation created between fundamental and technical values. Anytime there is a price divergence, we believe an opportunity exists for those well positioned to take advantage of the situation. These opportunities can come in the form of publicly traded equities, direct participation or the credit market. Each have their own respective level of risks, but those can be properly managed with a decisive strategy by your financial professional. mwm_blogbanner
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Life after College- Discussing Finances with your recent College Graduate

Many of our client’s children and grandchildren are beginning to graduate college, and they could not be happier. After all the trials and tribulations that come with being a parent, this is one of the truly rewarding experiences. It is after this walk across the stage that clients start to experience a mix of emotions: their children permanently leave home, tuition payments cease and they become a spectator to the decisions that lie ahead.   This often times becomes an unfortunate scenario, because as parents you still have so much to offer. Being able to draw from your own personal experiences and mistakes you or your peers made are very valuable experiences to share as your children begin to enter the “real world.” As much as future generations love to argue that things are not the same as they use to be, many of the same actions happen on a very similar timeline (Ages 22-32). Regardless of what decade you were born in, these things have almost remained a constant: o Beginning of Career (First, Second, Third Job) o Apartment Rental or Home Purchase o Wedding Funding & Marriage expenses o Children These all become major events in the path towards adulthood and ultimately a successful future, but the one theme we as wealth managers point to is that they all have a big impact on your financial future. Done incorrectly or at an inopportune time, the effects can be lasting and ultimately alter lifestyle and retirement choices. As clients would continue to voice their frustration with the lack of fiscal direction their children had or the inability to communicate with them on these subject matters, we saw it as a great opportunity to help be in intermediary in this area. The parents have trusted us with the family’s wealth and wanted the same level of support and fiscal education for their children- So we built a program helped to bridge this gap, knows as the YP Access Program. The YP Access Program helps young investors establish a trusting, working relationship well before the discussions of investing for retirement happen. This is done by giving personalized planning advice, asset allocation, risk assessment and industry insight that many high-end professionals, entrepreneurs and foundations have leveraged for years. Below are some of the best practices we have been able to assist clients with: Emergency Fund– We normally recommend 3-6 months living expenses, set aside immediately. This is the first opportunity to prove independence, you do not want to have it short lived by not being prepared for life’s often unexpected expenses. Budgeting- With a new paycheck bi-weekly, recent graduates can get caught up in the idea of being able to immediately replenish funds. Understand what your fixed overhead expenses and create your budget around that. Savings- This is the most difficult conversation to have, because it is often tough for recent graduates to see the big picture. The first place we start is to make sure that contributions to an employer sponsor plan are being contributed at a minimum to what their employer will match. There is no other place that can guarantee you 100% return like the matching program in employer-sponsored plan. Salary Negotiation- Just like in investing, the effect of compounding return can have a significant impact in regards to the salary at your job. Do not be afraid to ask early in your career (if warranted) for a raise. Employers expect this as part of the employer/employee relationship and one of the worst mistakes they can make it just settling for what the employer offers. Five or ten years down the road that 7% raise could be worth much more had it been compounded off of earlier incremental salary raises. “Hedonic Treadmill”– This is a theory that states regardless of any major positive or negative events, we quickly return to the same level of happiness. The danger here is that the more we have, the more our expectations rise and temptation to splurge or expectations can rise. Young professionals need to realize that many of benefits their parents enjoy are not going to come immediately and it is a process to get to that point. About Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. was formed by Greg Shields, a 30-year financial services veteran to offer sophisticated investors an alternative when looking for a more strategic path for long-term investing. As a private investment group, Midwest Wealth Management, Inc. offers a proprietary trading platform, alternative investment offerings and dedicated advisory support for a select audience. For more information, please visit www.midwest-wealth.com
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