TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

The unexpected way we might one day diagnose Alzheimer's

How do you stop Alzheimer's disease without a simple way to diagnose it? It's a real chicken and egg problem. Discovering a treatment for Alzheimer's requires lots of clinical trials for new drugs-but it's difficult to enroll participants without a way to identify people who have the disease early enough for potential treatments to work.

Right now, the best way to diagnose the disease is through a spinal tap or a brain scan. The problem is that the former is invasive and the latter is expensive. Plus, many patients don't get these tests until they start showing signs of cognitive decline, which means the disease may already be pretty advanced. It's hard to overstate how important finding a reliable, affordable, and easy-to-use diagnostic is for stopping Alzheimer's.

The good news is that we're finally within reach of that goal thanks to significant breakthroughs over the last couple years. Scientists are pushing forward with new diagnostics that range from simple blood tests to voice analysis straight out of a sci-fi novel. We're close to reaching the point where we can push past the chicken and egg problem.

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TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Don't underestimate the power of the fintech revolution

History is replete with people’s failures to anticipate the impact of technological change. Are we making the same mistake with financial technology (fintech)? Could it, in fact, be the next revolutionary technology to boost economic growth?

Financial innovations are unlike other inventions in that they can directly impact the efficiency of the financial sector, which is how savings and investment are intermediated in an economy - and which then affect growth.

Yet fintech is part of the digital economy that has produced innovations that have transformed the way we live, even as productivity growth has been slowing across advanced economies for decades. It is captured in the Solow paradox: The computer age is seen everywhere except in the productivity data.

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TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Avoiding Disruption Requires Rapid Decision Making

To thwart possible disruption, pundits give legacy companies such advice as "disrupt yourself before you get disrupted" or "put frontline employees in charge of strategy and execution." This counsel is of little help. Military history offers a much better way to respond. We call it tempo-based competition.

In 1976, U.S. Air Force Col. John Boyd explained why American fighter pilots had a far higher "kill ratio" (10:1) than opponents in the Korean War. At the time, the commonly held belief was that U.S. pilots were much better trained. If this was true, then dogfight victories should have been evenly distributed among all U.S. pilots. They were not; a few pilots achieved most of the kills while the others had very few, none, or were shot down themselves.

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