The emergence of the field of genomics has put research, drug development and diagnostics in a new and exciting course. We are still in the early stages of it.
Why is the human genome project important?
A key breakthrough has been the discovery that several of our most annoying and deadly diseases are caused by genetic mutations. This allows for screening and diagnosis long before any disease appears.
DNA is an abbreviated form that is often tossed. It stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. In a hurry, DNA is basically the recipe for your body’s protein production. Each of us has thousands of proteins in our body and those proteins play important roles in human cells.
Genetic disorders are often the result of not having a specific protein, having too much or too little of it. Knowing this, clinical researchers can devise treatments to solve the protein-related problems that are causing the disease.
What are the opportunities to invest in genome research?
It is difficult to invest in companies that develop genetic drugs. The pay-off may be higher, but even if you hit a company with a breakthrough molecule, the odds are against you.
Approximately 90% of drugs that enter clinical trials never reach commercial levels. Developing pharmaceutical companies are known for their huge price changes even when things are going well. In the case of a clinical hazard, the first bid may be 50% lower than just a few minutes earlier.
We’ve found that ideas focusing on foundation enabling technology in genetic research and drug development are better than investing in drug developers. As you may have heard, in the mid-19th century, the California Gold Rush made much more money by selling picks and shovels than ordinary gold mines. The same is true here.
There is a research advantage that can be achieved, we believe, and businesses are much more predictable.
In our Invesco Global Focus Equity Fund, Illumina, which we’ve loved over the years, is one of the biggest players in genetic medicine. It is a US-based company that currently produces about 70% of the world’s genetic sequencing systems. These systems are used by academia, biotechnology, drug developers, and in diagnostic settings.
All companies are built on the foundation of the Illuminati system and the world of medicine is rapidly moving towards them. The Covid-19 vaccines, invented by Moderna, Pfizer, and others, were developed shortly after the virus was sequenced in the Illuminia system.
Once the molecular properties of Covid-19 were understood, the solution came quickly. Typically, the interval between vaccine approval from clinical development is 9.2 years.
DNA testing is already being used for several cancers. Genetic tests for various types of breast cancer, colon cancer and others are readily available today and are already widely used. It’s just the beginning.
What is the future?
Screening will be available for early detection of a growing variety of cancers over the next few years before patients show any symptoms. The Illuminati will participate in various ways.
Cancer, annually, is the second largest cause of death in the world and its early detection will not only save a great deal of life but also save a great deal of money, as primary care is much less expensive than the world’s health care system.
Early detection of genetic markers will lead to early management of food, behavior and treatment risk factors. Time is a huge advantage in terms of treatment outcomes and early detection of genetic predisposition will give patients an unprecedented amount of time.
With advances in genomics and genetic medicine we will have more and more answers to many of our challenging health problems. There are many ways investors can participate, and the Illumina One and others in our portfolio.
The history of medicine was rooted in chemical formulas, but the future is molecular and biological. In contrast to the population of an aging world, we will need solutions to many diseases as the frequency increases with age. Genomics and genetic medicine are going to play a big role in this.
Randall Dishmon is Invesco’s Global Focus Strategy Portfolio Manager