Van Bryan here, Jeff Brown’s longtime managing editor.
Jeff, the team, and I would like to wish all readers happy holidays and a merry Christmas. We hope you are spending the day with friends and family.
Over the past couple days, we have seen what Jeff forecasts for 5G and AI. Today, we continue Jeff Brown’s 2020 prediction series by taking a close look at an emerging technology trend: precision medicine.
As you’ll see today, we’re on the cusp of a complete reordering of health care… and at the very beginning of a major bull run in biotech.
We hope you enjoy today’s edition of The Bleeding Edge. And thank you for being a reader.
– Van Bryan
Van Bryan: Jeff, today we’re talking about precision medicine and your predictions in the space for 2020. But for readers just joining us, could you get us up to speed on what precision medicine is?
Jeff Brown: These days, we typically wait until we feel sick before we seek medical treatment. Then, we visit a hospital, where our symptoms are treated with varying degrees of success.
Very often, each patient is treated with a “one size fits all” therapy. This approach to medicine is reactionary. In the very near future, medicine will be proactive and personalized.
We will have our genome – our genetic “blueprint” – sequenced to identify mutations in our genetic code that lead to disease. Then, thanks to CRISPR genetic editing technology, we’ll be able to fix these mutations – these “typos” – in our DNA. As a reminder, CRISPR can edit our genetic code as if it were software. And thanks to CRISPR, we will cure diseases in patients years before symptoms ever present themselves.
Van: And when you look back at 2019, what CRISPR developments stand out to you?
Jeff: In November, I attended a biotechnology conference, the STAT Summit. It was the first year the event was held, and it was fantastic.
One of the most incredible presentations at the 2019 STAT Summit came from Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) CEO Jeffrey Leiden.
Vertex has been working with CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP) on a therapy for sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia. Bad mutations in the hemoglobin gene cause these blood disorders. The therapy is CTX001.
Leiden talked about how two patients have been treated with CTX001 so far – one with sickle cell disease and the other with beta thalassemia. And the results have been phenomenal.
The beta thalassemia patient had not needed a blood transfusion in nine months. This is amazing because patients with this disease typically need blood transfusions every 2–4 weeks.
And the sickle cell patient had not suffered a crisis in four months.
And Leiden stated directly, “We have essentially cured these diseases. We have cracked the biology of sickle cell and beta [thalassemia].”
Of course, it is not Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved yet. The next step for Vertex is to expand the clinical trials to another 45 patients. I’m expecting identical results compared to the first two patients.
But going off of Leiden’s comments, it appears CRISPR technology has cured these diseases caused by genetic mutations.
Van: It was an incredible story in 2019. What do you see for CRISPR in 2020?
Jeff: So beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease were the first two, but I predict that CRISPR will cure at least five more diseases caused by genetic mutations in 2020.
To be clear, I don’t expect that five therapies will be approved by the FDA in 2020. But I believe at least five CRISPR therapies will demonstrate in either preclinical or clinical trials that they have cured the diseases they were meant to cure.
The novel therapies for these genetically caused diseases will absolutely continue in the new year. We are still just at the beginning.
And once the applications of CRISPR are well understood, we’re going to continue to see an explosion of investment in this area.
Van: For investors, that sounds like they should pay close attention to the biotech sector next year. Would that be fair to say?
Jeff: Oh, God, yes…
We’re at the very beginning of a multiyear bull market for the biotech space. That’s my next prediction. I mean, just think about it…
We have a combination of advanced diagnostic technologies coupled with computer processing power, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. And we have an incredible genetic editing platform like CRISPR.
On top of that, we saw record levels of private investments in the biotechnology sector in 2019. This is all going to lead to a multiyear boom in biotech that will really start in 2020.
We will see an explosion of therapies. There will also be a shorter time between drug discovery and FDA approval because of all these tools we have now. We’re going to also have better-quality drugs with fewer side effects that are highly personalized for each patient.
And once Wall Street sees this, what is it going to do? It will invest more in that space because it finally understands what incredible technological advancements are happening.
It’s going to be like dumping fuel on a fire.
And I’ll make one more prediction. I predict several early stage companies developing CRISPR therapies will go public. I have a list of companies I think might. We’ll just have to wait and see. But either way, we’re going to have some great new investment opportunities in this space in 2020.
And I’ll be sure to notify my readers when the time is right to strike.
Van: Definitely something to look forward to in the new year. Thanks for sharing, Jeff.
P.S. Van here again. As Jeff put it, we’re at the beginning of a multiyear bull run in biotech. And the best CRISPR companies will be leading the charge. But you don’t have to wait until 2020 to begin investing early.
Right now, a genetic editing company is working hard to cure a form of genetic blindness. That’s right. This company is working to literally cure blindness. The trial results are expected early next year. And Jeff has good reason to believe they will be positive.
And when that happens, the share price of this small-cap stock will skyrocket. There’s still time to get positioned, but not much. Go right here while you have the chance.
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