Decoding the future of healthcare

Key points to remember

  • Recent breakthroughs in genomics are helping advance the next generation of breakthroughs in medicine.
  • Gene therapies could transform the healthcare industry and become a $36 billion market by 2027.1
  • Megatrend ETFs can help capture potential medical breakthroughs and keep investors diversified across many stocks.

Earlier this month, the Biden-Harris administration announced the reinstatement of the Cancer Moonshot program – aimed at reducing the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years.2. The program will bring about improvements in cancer diagnosis and prevention, much of which is driven by new tools such as mRNA technology. The program will also help accelerate the clinical trial processes for bringing these therapies to market, enabling potentially earlier than expected commercialization for many cancer drugs, presenting potential growth opportunities for investors.

The pandemic has demonstrated how drugmakers can quickly and efficiently harness medical innovations. The mRNA technology used in vaccines to fight COVID-19 is being studied for potential deployment against rabies, influenza, Zika, HIV and cancer.3

For investors, breakthroughs in modern medicine could represent potential long-term growth opportunities. Consider that the gene therapy market is expected to grow 34% annually, to $36 billion, by 2027.4 The US Food and Drug Administration estimates that by 2025 it will approve between 10 and 20 cell and gene therapy products per year.5

CRISPR-Cas9: a copy-paste job

Source: BlackRock Clinic and Mayo. For illustrative purposes only.


Large-scale genetic sequencing

Advances in genetic sequencing underpin many advances in the life sciences, and sequencing millions of DNA codes has become cheaper and easier.

Over the past two decades, the cost of genetic sequencing has fallen more than 100-fold – from $100,000 in 2001 to less than $1,000 in 2020 – enabling scalable scientific use and paving the way for new generation of personalized therapies, particularly in areas such as oncology.6

Sequencing costs ($) per human genome

Sequencing costs per genome

Source: National Institute for Human Genome Research, “DNA sequencing costs: data», August 2020.


A revolutionary gene-editing technology is the CRISPR-Cas9 system. This technology allows researchers to isolate and manipulate parts of human DNA with “defects”. CRISPR-Cas9 consists of two components: a guide RNA, which can locate and recognize the DNA sequence to be edited, and the Cas9 protein, which can cut out the part of the DNA that is defective. A guide RNA and a Cas9 protein work together like Clippy, the Microsoft Word desktop program’s signature digital assistant, locating and deleting faulty parts of the gene and replacing them with the correct ones.

The falling costs of genetic sequencing technology, combined with the successful application of gene editing, are bringing potential cures to these diseases much faster and cheaper than the latest generation of drug discovery.

Conclusion

Given the remarkable groundbreaking results of genomics research, investors may consider a megatrends approach to investing in targeted themes like genomics. Index megatrend tracking ETFs can help capture the potential of medical breakthroughs, while continuing to diversify among the many companies that are poised to potentially benefit from the growth of the theme.

Advances in the biological sciences through the use of computing, data, and artificial intelligence are opening new doors in healthcare that can provide more precise therapies for a wide range of diseases.

1 GlobalNewsWire,”The gene therapy market is worth $35.67 billion at a CAGR of 33.6%», August 2020.

2 White House, “Fact Sheet: President Biden Reigniting Cancer Moonshot to End Cancer As We Know It.” February 2022

3 Yale School of Public Health, “The Application and Future Potential of mRNA Vaccines,” May 7, 2021.

4 GlobalNewsWire,”The gene therapy market is worth $35.67 billion at a CAGR of 33.6%», August 2020.

5 Statement by Scott Gottlieb, MD, Former Food and Drug Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration (January 15, 2019).

6 National Institute for Human Genome Research,DNA sequencing costs: data», August 2020.


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