Scientists have long known genetics play a major role in human development, but when discussing the bridge between gene mutations and certain diseases,scientists are only aware of a small fraction of mutations.
Gene therapy can open the doors to medical knowledge that before wouldn’t be discovered until the patient was facing a disease. There has been an increase in genetic data, thanks to databases that obtain the information from patients with the promise that their genes may help a researcher unlock a new treatment for a specific disease.
An example of how genetic therapy can help patients is the story of Janice King Poulsen, who was diagnosed with lung cancer with the ALK mutation. US News reported Poulsen underwent almost every treatment to rid her body of the cancer until she connected with Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah.
For the last three years, Poulsen has been taking the same medication which targets her ALK mutation, Zykadia, developed by Novartis (NYSE:NVE) to keep her “cancer under control,” the article said.
Here the Investing News Network (INN) looks at what the genetics market looks like, immuno-oncology trials, and its future outlook to help better answer the question, “what is genetics investing?”
Genetics investing: patients need driving market forward
Despite warnings from medical officers, more and more patients have begun taking genetic tests in order to find if they are susceptible to diseases like cancer.
That being said, there are a number of companies making a name for themselves in the gene therapy market. Earlier this year, INN looked at how companies jumping into the public genetics sector performed, with most of the companies performing well at the time of publication.
The resurgence of gene therapies can be partly attributed to the revolution brought by CRISPR-Cas9 System, which has opened the doors to genome editing, a modern technique where direct alteration is made to improve the system and develop more specific drugs.
“We can generate hundreds of knock-out models a month on a rolling platform. And that’s really only possible because of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology. It’s pretty much all pervasive,” Chris Lowe, head of research operations at Horizon told Labiotech.eu
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) describes personalized medicine as a “disruptive innovation” for this reason. Emerging from the completion of the Human Genome Project (HGP), progress in genomics and proteomics research, and the development of “targeted” therapeutics, personalized medicines should ultimately improve health outcomes by providing individuals with a more streamlined, targeted healthcare plan.
The race for the I/O market
A 2017 report from the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD) expects the sales for the I/O market, worldwide, to produce annual revenues between $25 billion and $40 billion by 2020.
Cancer Genetics (NASDAQ:CGIX) has recently expanded their I/O panel, Complete::IO, to include five new IO markers, bringing their total number to 27. The panel is “multi-marker panel enabling comprehensive characterization of the immune repertoire of cancer patients, including circulating immune cell populations and the tumor microenvironment.” Since the initial launch in April 2017, the panel has quickly gained commercial traction.
Another two biotech company in the I/O race, Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ:SGEN), recently teamed up with Pieris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PIRS) to develop multiple targeted bispecific I/O treatment for solid tumours and blood cancers. The press release said, “Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics will pay Pieris a $30 million upfront fee, tiered royalties on net sales up to low double-digits, and up to $1.2 billion in total success-based payments across three product candidates.” Collaborations are one of the ways to benefit from multiple companies developing products without the same commitment of a merger or acquisition.
Big pharma companies are also in the race, Merck (NYSE:MRK) announced an acquisition to expand their own I/O pipeline through an acquisition with Viralytics (ASX:VLA), an Australian oncolytic immunotherapy focused company. Merck will soon fully own Viralytics as a subsidiary and adopt their product Cavatak “that has been shown to preferentially infect and kill cancer cells,” said in the press release.
Genetics investing: future estimates
In terms of genetics investing, a market estimate report indicated research would only grow from 2016 up to 2024, with the US and Europe taking the lead. A summary of the report’s pointed to government initiatives being capable to “improve healthcare delivery to all sections of the population to propel demand for genetic testing.”
The market for these healthcare solutions is growing. In its June 2016 report, Grand View Research estimates that the global market will reach $2.45 trillion by 2022 and anticipates that most of that growth will come from the Asia-Pacific region.
It can be inferred that interest in personalized medicine is driving genetics investing. This, in turn, is revolutionizing the way we think about disease, healthcare and the most effective paths of treatment.
The cancer gene therapy market alone is supposed to grow 20.7 percent to $4.3 billion by 2024 up from $805.5 million in 2016, according to a report by Global Market Insights.
The report suggests the market will move according to new therapies, different regions, and high investments in R&D. Some companies already competitive in this market are Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), and Aduro Biotech (NASDAQ:ADRO).
The application includes vaccine production, toxicity tests, biopharmaceutical production, gene therapy, drug screening as well as its development, and cancer research.
The overall growth of the genetics market should provide some level of comfort to investors interested the industry whether it’s from mid-cap to large-cap companies. Whether it’s specifically cancer treatments, or vaccines, there’s lots of room for the genetic focused companies to grow.
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This is an update to an article originally published in 2015.
Securities Disclosure: I, Gabrielle Lakusta, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.