Oncology relates to cancer as a way to study prevention methods, proper diagnosis, and effective treatment. Investing in this sector can push a company towards achieving significant developments in the fight against cancer.
Cancer treatment is a complicated matter for companies due to the varying types of the disease. When a life science company conducts research or seeks to develop a product for this market, it is more likely than not that they set on a very specific type of cancer to fight. As with any life science company, investors need to remember the risks are always going to be high, and with serious treatments and novel therapies, patience is one of the key allies for investors.
In that regard, the Investing News Network (INN) looks at some oncology companies active in the space, oncology approvals from the FDA, and stem cell research against cancer. Through this, the answer to “what is oncology investing?” can be better understood.
What is oncology investing? An overview
As mentioned above, cancer treatments are complicated in that not only is there a large number of cancer types, there’s varying treatments for the same disease. In that regard, there is no single cure for cancer, and the number of new cancer cases is expected to reach 25 million by 2030, according to the latest World Cancer Report published in 2014.
Still, discoveries and advancements towards finding cures are being made all the time. In early 2017, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) released a forecast for cancer research and treatment advances and touched base on immunotherapy.
In the report, Elizabeth Jaffee, a former board member of the AACR, said that in the area of immunotherapy, more is being learned about the signals tumors send “to inhibit an effective immune response against them.”
“We have already turned this knowledge into therapeutics that inhibit some of these signals (checkpoint inhibitors) so the T cells can be effective in attacking the cancer cells, and developing therapeutics that can activate certain other cells within the tumor microenvironment (checkpoint agonists) to help further activate the T cells,” she said in the report.
In short, Jaffee said that with those methods, they have been able to give patients with weeks to live a better quality of life.
When it comes to investing in oncology, it can certainly be intimidating due to the large volume of technologies, medicine and research being done. In short, knowledge is key when it comes to choosing how and where to invest.
When it comes to investing in oncology companies, there is certainly no shortage of them conducting research and working to fight against cancer. Here INN takes a glance at a select few with market caps of less than $500 million.
Champions Oncology (NASDAQ:CSBR)
Market cap: $39.31 million
Champions Oncology focused on developing and selling technology solutions and products to personalize the development and use of oncology drugs, particularly in the biotech and pharmaceuticals sector.
In particular, the company’s two segments include Personalized Oncology Solutions (POS) and Translational Oncology Solutions (TOS). The former gives doctors and patients information to help with the decision of treatment plans, while the latter provides services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies looking for personalized approaches to drug development.
Market cap: $97.08 million
Oncolytics Biotech is an interesting prospect in this area that thanks to some recent funding this year seems poised to elevate the cancer therapeutic market. The company is developing their cancer therapeutic Reolysin, which has undergone a variety of clinical trials in various stages completed by itself or in combination with biologics, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy.
Market cap: $164.99 million
This company is working on prevention rather than treatment. Instead of the potentially long-term play of care, OncoCyte focuses on their liquid biopsies with blood and urine samples to find better results and improve the life expectancy of patients.
Market cap: $58.01 million
Q BioMed is a biomedical acceleration and development company, meaning they seek to acquire other companies with interesting technology or products. In 2017, the company has shared new developments from their cancer division. In June 2017, the company announced a licensing agreement with The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) and the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB). This agreement will give exclusive global rights to Q BioMed for the development of a novel chemotherapeutics drug to treat liver cancer. A promising new endeavour.
Sierra Oncology (NASDAQ:SRRA)
Market cap: $82.58 million
Sierra Oncology is a clinical-stage drug development company whose lead product is a small molecule inhibitor Checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) which mediates the DNA Damage Response network.
The company is in the middle of two trials for SRA737, one of which recently received approval to upgrade by adding prospectively selected patients dealing with tumors “identified to have genetic aberrations hypothesized to confer sensitivity to Chk1 inhibition.”
As such the US Food and Drug Administration has approved drugs that actively target many variations of cancer, which may spread to different parts of the body.
This year has already seen a strong and consistent stream of advances and approvals from the FDA. EMD Serono, a biopharmaceutical in partnership with Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), received an accelerated approval for BAVENCIO. This is used to treat patients with advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma with disease progression even with chemotherapy.
Similarly, Novartis Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:NVS) received approval for Kisqali as a result of an international clinical trial with 668 patients. This treatment is set to target metastatic breast cancer. Thanks to Kisqali, 53 percent of women in this trial saw a 30 percent tumor burden reduction.
In July and August, some of the FDA’s approvals include Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ:JAZZ) Vyxeos, which treats newly-diagnosed therapy-related AML or AML with myelodysplasia-related changes, and Puma Biotech’s (NASDAQ:PBYI) Nerlynx, which treats HER2 breast cancer.
Other ways to invest
Like many other sectors, investors looking to get into the oncology sector can do so by way of an ETF. For many, ETFs are an attractive way to strengthen portfolios, especially to those who are interested in a specific market rather than individual companies.
On that note, there is one cancer ETF for consideration: the Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF (NASDAQ:CNCR) tracks companies in the biotech space, particularly those that treat cancer by using drugs that don’t impact the body’s immune response. As of August 31, 2017, the Loncar ETF currently tracks 31 holdings, which can be found here.
Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates.
This is an update to the article originally published in 2017.
Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Q BioMed is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.