As our average age grows, and as the life expectancy of baby boomers rises, we increase our likelihood of contracting illnesses including cancer. Traditional cancer-treatment therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation are deadly, causing poisoning and burning. There is a wave, however, of a number of therapies that are disruptive to chemotherapy and radiation and that aim to be much kinder to the healthy parts of our bodies. At the 2018 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Bruce E. Johnson, MD, FASCO, stated “There is no question that we are witnessing a transformation of cancer care brought about by precision medicine.” Dr. Johnson also explains that
“Precision medicine has been defined by the National Institutes of Health as an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. A simpler way of thinking of it is the right drug for the right person at the right time.”
The application of the principles of precision medicine to the treatment of cancer can be referred to as precision oncology. For example, Dr. Johnson states: “Today, nearly half of all patients presenting with lung cancer can now be initially treated with targeted agents or immunotherapy rather than chemotherapy”.
Globally, the size of the precision oncology market was USD 49.98 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.9% forecast to reach USD 99.72 billion by 2027, according to a new report by Reports and Data. Further key findings from the report suggest that biotechnology companies are the largest end-user segment and are estimated to generate revenue of over USD 43.08 billion by 2027.
An example of an application of precision oncology is Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) – precision oncology at the cellular level. Unlike external beam radiotherapy, which indiscriminately affects both healthy and diseased cells, according to the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, in PRRT, a cell-targeting protein is combined with a small amount of radioactive material which, when injected together into the patient’s bloodstream, deliver radiation directly to the cancer cells.
Although there are negative side effects, according to Soricimed Biopharma Inc., PRRT minimizes collateral damage to healthy surrounding cells, affects far fewer healthy cells than does traditional radiotherapy, and often results in a better expected outcome for the patient.
Investors wishing to invest in the next generation of medical developments with customized investment solutions will need to have a long-term horizon. Some stocks are in the forefront of precision medicine and precision oncology, it may be some time before these areas become lucrative. Accordingly, investing in a pureplay may have significant upside, while some larger companies with more diverse technology portfolios already have profits and can afford to pay dividends. Depending on an investor’s objectives, a basket of stocks may be appropriate to participate in the future of medicine. Investors can look into customized portfolio management solutions to learn more about how investment management companies engage with the medical field.