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Healthcare costs in America and the world are set to rise in the foreseeable future. All thanks to an aging population, and the expectation that healthcare companies will be able to cure more of our diseases. The companies that can break into new markets by curing new diseases are set to profit the most from the coming healthcare boom. All of which is great news for healthcare stocks. In fact, companies like CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP) need to show that their new technology is safe, effective, and can be used to treat multiple different diseases.
Companies like Accuray (NASDAQ:ARAY) need to show growth by getting their treatments in front of more patients. And companies like Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) are banking on every other company in the world to remember that genetics underpins many of our most difficult diseases. And if these companies can prove their theses, they can all pay off big time for investors.
CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP)
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First up on this list of healthcare stocks is CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP), which is chasing a trillion-dollar genomic revolution. At the moment, the company is using a technology called CRISPR/Cas to alter the DNA of a patient’s cell, potentially curing them of a genetic disease. CRISPR has partnered with Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX) to produce CTX-001, a drug regime to cure sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia.
For example, Sickle Cell Anemia and beta-thalassemia are common targets for CRISPR companies because they are blood diseases. That means you can remove the patient’s blood, treat it in a lab with the CRISPR/Cas drug, and then give the treated blood back to the patient. This new blood will then cure the patient of the disease by producing new red blood cells.
The clinical trial for CTX-001 is slated to end Aug. 2024, and those results will be very important for CRISPR’s future. But just as important will be the new research that continues to come out on delivering CRISPR drugs to patients. Not all diseases can be treated by removing part of the patient and then giving it back to them. CRISPR investors should also stay aware of the new scientific developments in drug delivery systems. Those new delivery systems will be necessary for CRISPR Therapeutics to realize its full potential. CRISPR’s 2022 earnings report shows a burn rate that should let them stay afloat for many more years, so an investor can afford to be patient. And if CRISPR succeeds, it could have a huge payout, being the centerpiece of one of the biggest markets in history.
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Next up on our list of hot healthcare stocks is Accuray (NASDAQ:ARAY), a medical device company using robotic radiation therapy to treat cancer. The company owns CyberKnife, a robot that shoots beams of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Cyberknife is used in a number of medical centers and continues to be studied for new applications. It is an innovative treatment option that could become more widely used in the future.
Accuray is a small company with big dreams. If CyberKnife can prove itself superior to other cancer treatments, can become the cancer treatment of the future. This could lead to significant growth for Accuray. Additionally, CyberKnife can not only be used for cancer treatment, but also for non-cancer radiotherapy, expanding its potential market. A number of scientific review articles give CyberKnife positive mentions. But despite this, Accuray’s revenue has shown little growth, which has kept its stock price low. Accuray has managed to sell its machines, but not enough of them, and they aren’t being used everywhere. Accuray needs growth opportunities. It needs to apply radiotherapy for new conditions or update its machines to sell more of them. Failure to achieve growth could keep the company stuck in the doldrums forever.
Accuray could be profitable. But standing still in biotech means falling behind, and cutting research would mean getting leapfrogged by other companies. Accuray’s lack of earnings isn’t fatal, but it will need to show growth before investors can truly trust it.
There are also red-hot healthcare stocks like Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN), a harbinger of the DNA revolution in healthcare. While the other companies on this list are treating diseases, Illumina is a company you’ll want to buy if you’re betting on the whole healthcare sector. Even 20 years after the completion of the human genome project, scientists are still finding new ways that our DNA affects our health. As a leader in genetics and genomics, Illumina has positioned itself to take advantage of the new opportunities brought on by new science.
Illumina makes tools and consumables for reading DNA and RNA. It has plenty of competition in this space, but it holds itself high through its ultra-high-accuracy reads compared to its competitors. Other companies specialize in reading long segments of DNA but have lower accuracy. Illumina specializes in reading short segments of DNA, but at very high accuracy.
That might sound like Illumina is missing out on a market, but in many cases Illumina’s shorter reads are sufficient. Meanwhile, their higher accuracy gives them a premium. You can always use a technique like Shotgun Sequencing to break long segments of DNA into shorter ones, read them, and then put them back together. This means there are very few cases where Illumina’s tools aren’t good for a given job.
On the date of publication, John Blankenhorn did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
John Blankenhorn is a neuroscientist at Emory University. He has significant experience in biochemistry, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical research.