Precision Medicine

One universal and challenging reality of healthcare is that we all respond differently to different treatments. We’ve all had those frustrating moments when we learn that the medicine we recently tried that made no real improvement on our ailment somehow worked brilliantly for a friend or family member. 

The reason for this variability stems from the fact that everyone has unique genetics, lifestyles, and living environments. Our genetic makeup, lifestyle choices, and the physical environment around us all impact how our bodies respond to sickness and medicine. 

For instance, a small percentage of the population has an enzyme deficiency due to genetics. People with this deficiency are not able to process drugs called thiopurines, which are used to treat autoimmune disorders, certain types of cancer, and organ transplants. 

The traditional approach to medicine involves doctors giving sick patients treatment that works well for most people, and adjusting course if the treatment does not work. This approach may work well enough when the illness is not serious, but it can be downright dangerous if the patient has an aggressive disease and there is not enough time for trial and error treatment. 

In response to the limitations of traditional medicine, there is growing interest in a new approach called precision medicine. Unlike traditional medicine, precision medicine approaches treatment from the perspective that all patients are highly unique, and that in order to provide the most effective treatment, doctors need to understand exactly what makes a patient unique.

Precision medicine is a data-driven approach to healthcare, and recent advances in computer science and technology are harnessing data to drive innovation across the healthcare sector. There are significant challenges that need to be addressed before precision medicine can have a global, transformative impact, but leaders throughout healthcare and government are increasingly recognizing precision medicine’s enormous potential to deliver better care faster.

For those interested in the investment potential of this growing industry, there are a few important points to understand.

What is Precision Medicine?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), precision medicine is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.” 

The “precision” in precision medicine allows doctors and researchers to more accurately pinpoint which treatments will be most effective for certain people or groups of people.

Three fields that are rapidly driving innovation in precision medicine are genetic testing, pharmacogenomic testing, and medical imaging. 

According to the NIH, genetic testing is “a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder.” Genetic testing is currently used to identify people who are at particular risk for certain types of cancer (such as with the BRCA gene test for breast cancer), and the hope is that in the future, genetic testing will expand into the realm of primary care as a noninvasive screening test for preventive medicine. 

Pharmacogenomic testing is a type of genetic test used to figure out how a patient will 

respond to certain medications. Our genetic makeup contributes to how we respond to medicine, so pharmacogenomic tests look for clues in our genes to figure out which medications, or what doses of those medications, are likely to work best. 

As mentioned earlier, some people have an enzyme deficiency that makes thiopurines ineffective. A pharmacogenomic test for this enzyme deficiency lets the doctor know whether thiopurines are a good course of treatment before treatment begins, rather than adjusting course after complications arise. 

Last but not least, medical imaging encompasses the various technologies that allow us to view the human body in order to diagnose, monitor, or treat medical conditions (MRIs, CT scans, etc.). Innovative technological solutions are changing how images are gathered and interpreted. 

By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and deep learning, Intel recently developed technology that was able to identify thyroid nodules in patients with 10% higher accuracy than the radiologists. Innovations in genetic testing, pharmacogenomic testing, and medical imaging are accelerating the expansion of precision medicine in the healthcare ecosystem.

Why Invest in Precision Medicine?

The investment potential in the precision medicine industry is likely substantial, and there are several clear reasons for this. 

First, leaders in government are beginning to recognize the enormous potential of precision medicine and are committing substantial resources to support innovation. For instance, President Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) in 2015 with $215 million in funding to drive research and expand precision medicine across the U.S. healthcare ecosystem. A cornerstone of the PMI is the groundbreaking All of Us Research Program, which plans to enroll and follow a diverse group of at least 1 million people in the U.S. in order to accelerate medical research and improve health. 

Government funding aside, the proliferation of direct-to-consumer genetic testing is another driver of precision medicine’s long-term strength. Companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com offer genetic testing that provides customers with genealogy and health insights. 

Millions of people have taken these at-home genetic tests, and testing companies now sit on mountains of valuable data. That data, when properly (and legally) harnessed, is enormously valuable in developing new drugs.

While precision medicine is clearly going to continue changing the healthcare landscape in the coming years, there are a few challenges that need to be addressed before it becomes a game changer for everyone. 

The first challenge is data. Health data is not like other data – it is subject to extensive and strict government regulations (HIPAA in the U.S., for instance). How will companies navigate these complicated data issues as they work to integrate precision medicine solutions? 

The next challenge is access. If you are poor or uninsured, precision medicine, as it currently stands, is likely too expensive for you to use. Will prices come down as innovation accelerates, or will governments need to step in to improve access for everyone? 

These are questions that thought leaders in healthcare, private industry, and government are thinking about, and they are worth considering if you are interested in investing in precision medicine.

How to Invest in Precision Medicine

Of course, investing in a field as new and innovative as precision medicine comes with its share of risk. As an emerging segment of healthcare, precision medicine is still growing and the companies in this sector are still working out where that can make the biggest impact. With this in mind, investing in precision medicine via an ETF or mutual fund is a good way to access this emerging field without taking on undue risk. A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of ways to do this.


Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


medical devices

Medical Devices

When we think “medical device,” we might automatically think of the beeping equipment in a hospital room. But, in today’s world, medical devices are much more— perhaps even closer to science fiction than traditional science. 

The medical device market is anticipated to reach $432.6 billion by 2025, according to a recent report published by Lucintel.  

In part, this growth is driven by the increasing sophistication of technology. Medical devices are becoming smaller and smarter than ever, performing increasingly complex and constantly improving functions. 

[What else is happening in healthcare? Here’s Magnifi’s take.]

Moreover, escalating healthcare costs, a rise in chronic diseases, and a growing aging population are compelling health care providers to seek out new, more efficient care models. From 3D printing human tissues to monitoring patients according to their specific clinical needs after they leave the hospital, innovative medical devices are meeting that need. 

New medical devices are offering a myriad of useful answers to complex health challenges, changing the reality of care in new and exciting ways. 

What are Medical Devices?

According to the World Health Organization, ‘medical device’ means any instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, appliance, implant, reagent for in vitro use, software, material or other similar or related article, intended by the manufacturer to be used, alone or in combination, for human beings, for one or more of the specific medical purpose(s) of:

  • diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease,
  • diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, alleviation of or compensation for an injury,
  • investigation, replacement, modification, or support of the anatomy or of a physiological process,
  • supporting or sustaining life,
  • control of conception,
  • disinfection of medical devices
  • providing information by means of in vitro examination of specimens derived from the human body;

and does not achieve its primary intended action by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means, in or on the human body, but which may be assisted in its intended function by such means.

So, health monitors, check. Brain sensors, check. 3D printed prosthetics (and ears!), check again. 

Why Invest in Medical Devices?

The landscape of medical devices is growing rapidly, with technology making the impossible possible. 

Wearables

The rise in wearables isn’t limited to FitBits. And when it comes to medical devices, wearables do much more than measure your steps. For one, wearables can offer real-time patient data to health care providers. And, when they connect with Artificial Intelligence-based programs, they not only collect information, but also analyze it against big data. 

Up-to-minute information about vitals limits the need for in-person appointments and can lead to better patient outcomes. For example, Current Health’s Remote Patient Monitoring Platform is AI powered and customizable according to a patient’s risk level. 

Some emerging wearables can also perform health interventions. In early 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),approved the first wearable, portable peritoneal dialysis. Developed by Singapore-based AWAK Technologies, the device has the potential to change the lives of dialysis patients around the world. 

Perhaps even more exciting, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a wrist-worn prototype that screens the wearer’s blood over the course of a few hours, analyzing it for circulating tumor cells (CTCs).

Wearables can be used for everything from pre-surgical planning to gene sequencing and medical imaging, making their health and investment opportunities plentiful. 

Brain Sensors 

These days, brain sensors come in many shapes and sizes. Some are placed in the brain itself, measuring temperature and pressure before dissolving. This information can be crucial for patients with traumatic brain injuries, for example. Their dissolvable nature not only negates the need for surgery to remove them, but also limits the risk of infection and complications associated with long-term implants. 

Alternatively, the company Advanced Brain Monitoring offers products designed to track function as it relates to chronic diseases and early stage neurodegeneration.  

Still others are more consumer oriented, like the company Muse, which sells headsets that act as a brain fitness tool, measuring and tracking brain activity.

Artificial Organs 

Certainly many things — like the heart — can’t be replicated. Right? Actually, that’s not entirely true anymore.

iSynCardia Systems recently received FDA approval for its most recent iteration of a total artificial heart, the 50cc temporary Total Artificial Heart System (50cc TAH-t).The company’s artificial heart, first approved in 2004, is meant to be a bridge until a biological donor becomes available. Artificial organs, whether printed or made otherwise, offer a lot of promise, providing millions waiting on donor organs an alternative. 

3D Printing 

According to the FDA, “3D printing is a process that creates a three-dimensional object by building successive layers of raw material.” 

Not only does 3D printing allow for the creation of more patient-specific devices, it allows for more specific variation in medical tools. Rather than buying large quantities of a tool, providers can print them on demand. Similarly, customized prosthetics and orthopedic implants are more possible than ever, improving the likelihood of patient success.

Bioprinting

Now, for the real science fiction stuff. 

Bioprinting uses carefully designed bio inks made of biomaterials and cells to 3D print living obstacles, such as tissue or organ. Pioneered a decade ago, bioprinting in its early days was developed to improve wound reconstruction related to burns, one of the most common types of traumas worldwide. Since then, scientists have gone as far as to develop a prototype of a handheld bioprinter designed specifically to help skin regenerate in areas affected by large wounds.  

Beyond skin, scientists have succeeded in bioprinting an artificial pancreas, a synthetic ear, a meniscus made in space, and even bone tissue. Researchers are even working on bio-printed ovaries for women suffering from infertility. 

How to Invest in Medical Devices

As an emerging industry, particularly one in the feast or famine sector of biotech, investing in medical devices directly can be risky. Although medical devices on the whole have been around for decades, the innovative new solutions at the forefront of the industry remain largely untested. This can make investing in individual medical device companies a risky proposition.

However, a search on Magnifi indicates that there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds available to give investors broad exposure to this industry without concentrating their bets on any one company. 

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology

The term nanotechnology might seem like something reserved for a science lab, but it is as close as the latest pregnancy announcement that you may have heard.

That’s right, the second pink line on a pregnancy test only appears if the hCG hormone is present. If the tester is pregnant, gold nanoparticles tagged with a specific antibody attach to the hCG on the second strip.

And nanotechnology is doing more than telling women they are pregnant. Advances are improving bulletproof vests, making plastic beer bottles possible, and coating products to make them better— from flame resistant furniture to fortified glass surfaces to antimicrobial bandages.

The global nanotechnology market is projected to reach $2.23 million by 2025 according to a study by Allied Market Research. This growth is credited to increasing applications across industries, including communication, medicine, transportation, agriculture, energy, materials and manufacturing, and consumer products.

What is Nanotechnology? 

A nanometer is the microscopic measurement of one billionth of a meter. For perspective, consider that one sheet of paper is roughly 100,000 nanometers thick. 

According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, nanotechnology is, “the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.” In other words, it’s the ability to manipulate and create matter, enhancing it for the purpose it will serve, at the molecular level. 

Why Invest in Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is an exciting investment opportunity because of its growing, impactful applications across industries. 

Nanotech innovations and its applications have a range of biomedical potential. In medicine, specifically, nanotechnology is solving real-world health challenges by innovating from prevention to diagnostics to treatment. 

For example, antibiotics have long been a standard treatment for infection. However, the overuse of antibiotics has resulted in increasingly drug-resistant bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were an estimated 119,247 cases of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections and 19,832 associated deaths nationwide in 2017.

As an alternative to antibiotics, novel nanomaterials can combat pathogens, not only offering a more targeted delivery of medicine and therapeutics, but also a more targeted treatment. 

The potential for nano-driven solutions to public health issues is not lost on big investors. 

Novo Holdings REPAIR Impact Fund, recently invested EUR 7 million in Mutabilis, a company developing novel antibacterials for drug-resistent bacteria. 

And nanovaccines against both bacteria and cancerous tumors are also in the works, according to a recent report from the Advanced Materials “Biomimetic Nanotechnology toward Personalized Vaccines.” Not only can nanotechnology “increase the potency of vaccines,” it can personalize applications of both vaccines and treatments with the potential for tremendous social and economic impact. 

Nanotechnology is also helping patients suffering from endometriosis, a condition that affects 10% of childbearing-age women will experience endometriosis.

The traditional treatment for the condition was to surgically remove lesions, which often recur after surgery and require multiple invasive surgeries. Using nanotechnology, scientists instead employ tiny polymeric materials packed with a specialized dye. Not only do the tiny materials fluoresce to show where the lesions are, essentially providing imaging. They also kill the lesion cells by flaring to 115 degrees Fahrenheit upon exposure to near-infrared light, helping to remove the lesions.

Nanotechnology is also improving cardiovascular care by reducing the size and improving the effectiveness of instruments used for cardiac surgery. 

There’s even the potential for nanorobots, which have the potential to operate in the human body, analyzing and reporting on given tissues. 

Because nanotech also has broad potential beyond the healthcare field.

For example, nanotechnology is constantly improving electronics, which, as they become smaller and smaller, also become increasingly harder to manufacture. Nanotec can shrink these technology tools so that they fit in our pockets while also making them better at processing data, increasing memory space, lighter and more portable, and improving functionality overall.  

Nanotechnology is responsible for the lithium-ion battery, for example. Offering a minimum power draw and high-energy-density, these now commonplace batteries weren’t on the market until the 1990s. Since then, they’ve become increasingly more powerful and less expensive. 

And yet, the innovation hasn’t stopped. The world is now taking stock of graphene, a single, thin layer of graphite. Although graphene shares the same atoms as graphene, its properties are extremely different because the atoms are arranged differently. 

Nanotech Energy, a battery and graphene technology startup, recently secured $27.5 million in funding, according to the company. Founded in 2014, the company plans to release a non-flammable, environmentally friendly lithium battery that charges much quicker than those currently on the market in the coming year. 

How to Invest in Nanotechnology

Yes, the growth potential for nanotechnology is impressive, but the sector doesn’t come without risk. Although nanotech has been around for years, it is still considered an emerging field and the industry is still sorting out where the best, more profitable applications lie. This can make investing in individual nanotechnology companies a risky proposition.

However, a search on Magnifi indicates that there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds available to give investors broad exposure to this industry without concentrating their bets on any one company.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today. 

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


healthcare

Healthcare

Make no mistake, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for millions of people around the world. Suddenly, maintaining our health is the most important thing on our minds, overtaking all of the usual daily tasks like work, school and entertainment.

Economies have shut down, governments have scrambled to adapt and we’re still not yet sure what the world will look like on the other side of this.

But one area that’s seeing direct impacts is the healthcare industry. Not only are millions turning to their healthcare providers for help addressing COVID-19, but they’re also doing so in new ways as a result of the pandemic. Stay-at-home orders and concerns over exposure at hospitals have led to an explosion in the use of telehealth and digital health services.

This isn’t all new, of course. It’s been a long time since the stereotype of the lone country doctor doing house calls has been even close to true, and the industry has been evolving and growing ever since its earliest stages prior to the Civil War. In those days, medical care was a luxury with hospitals located in a few major cities to serve patients but little else available. The first hospital in the U.S., the Royal Hospital in New Orleans, opened in 1722 as a military facility but was later switched over for civilian use. By that point it was too expensive for the majority of the residents in the area to visit, so a second, charity-based hospital was built nearby, starting the tradition of hospitals serving all as a type of public service.

Medical innovation accelerated dramatically in the 20th century, with the advent of new technologies like X-ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging improving doctor’s diagnostic capabilities, the expansion of vaccines helping to protect public health from infectious diseases, to new surgical anesthetics, antibiotics, heart surgeries, radiologic imaging and more.

As ABC News explained in 2007: “Whether it’s the technology that allows us to peer deep into the body or medicines that extend the lives of those with chronic diseases, it’s easy to see how advances in health and medicine have touched the lives of nearly every person on the planet. Yet considering the ubiquitous nature of these developments, it is easy to see how many people take for granted the technologies and practices that, at one point or another, almost certainly saved their own lives or the lives of people they’ve loved.”

The history of healthcare is a history of innovation.

That’s one of the reasons that it has become such a popular segment for investors looking to generate gains while also supporting work that’s protecting the health of millions of people. But, for those interested in the investment potential of this booming market, there are a few important points to understand.

What is Included in ‘Healthcare’?

According to Webster’s dictionary, “healthcare” includes any “efforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being especially by trained and licensed professionals.” This includes everything related to maintaining or improving a person’s health, including the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, recovery or cure of diseases, injuries and any other physical problems that they might be experiencing.

And the list of other professionals involved in delivering healthcare is equally long, including doctors, nurses, surgeons, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, psychologists, therapists, athletic trainers and more. Anyone providing care to people – including on the scale of public health – is involved in healthcare.

Here in the U.S., the term “healthcare” also typically applies to the entire healthcare delivery system, ranging from individual doctor’s offices all the way up to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. A health system is a network of related facilities – usually three to 10 hospitals – that work together to deliver health services to patients in their geographic area. The National Bureau of Economic Research defines health systems based on three types of arrangements: (1) organizations with common ownership, (2) those that are contractually integrated, and (3) those that are part of informal care systems, such as common referral arrangements. “Systems include organizations combined horizontally (e.g., a hospital system) or vertically (e.g., a multihospital system also owning physician practices and post-acute care facilities).”

These systems are typically major employers in their communities and are effectively one-stop-shops for all of their patient’s healthcare needs.

Of course, delivery is just part of the healthcare equation. It also has to be paid for, and that’s where the health insurance side of things comes into the picture. Health insurance today is a tangled web of private plans, employer-provided plans, government-backed programs like Medicare and Medicaid and more. Add to this the Affordable Care Act, introduced in 2010, intended to overcome some of the limitations of the private, for-profit health insurance industry and expand affordable coverage to all Americans.

Why Invest in Healthcare?

As an industry, healthcare is massive.

Worldwide, the industry was worth $8.45 trillion as of 2018 and accounts for about 10% of most GDPs. This is on track to exceed $10 trillion by 2022.

In the U.S., it’s even bigger. As of 2019, healthcare accounted for nearly 18% of U.S. GDP and is the country’s largest employment sector, employing 1 out of every 8 Americans. We also spend the most on our health individually, at more than $10,000 annually per capita.

It’s also an extremely lucrative segment of the economy. Among the 784,000-plus companies in U.S. healthcare, more than $1 trillion in annual revenue comes from patient services, with $74 billion coming from rehab services, $50 billion from dental services and more than $44 billion from government grants and contributions. Healthcare deals with a lot of big numbers.

But there are hopes that new technologies can help tame this system and unlock new efficiencies. According to some estimates, the internet of things (IoT) can lower the costs of operational and clinical inefficiencies by $100 billion per year, and 64% of physicians believe it can help reduce the burden on nurses and doctors.

Beyond IoT, healthcare is finding new applications for Artificial Intelligence in managing patient care, blockchain in handling patient health records, chatbots for customer service and virtual reality for physician training. That’s to say nothing of the potential for marketing automation, supply chain logistics and other proven technologies that are finally finding applications in the healthcare space.

How to Invest in Healthcare

Naturally, healthcare is a large and sprawling industry. For investors, it can be challenging to choose where to invest in a segment that includes everything from drug development, to medical devices, to home health services and much more.

Investing in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to the entire healthcare world is a good way to overcome this limitation, and a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of such funds for investors to choose from.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]

 


vegan

Vegan

From coconut coffee creamers and dairy-free yogurt to veggie burgers, the market for plant-based, natural foods and beverages are outpacing total food and beverage sales overall. 

According to SPINS’ 2019 State of the Natural Industry, the market for natural food and beverage products is growing at 5.0% compared to that of total food and beverages growing at 1.7% year-over-year.

While the growth is astounding, it’s not necessarily surprising. 

If you’ve been to the grocery store recently, you know that plant-based products are no longer limited to one aisle and aren’t marketed to just one specific type of consumer. Plant-based products are everywhere and stores are asking all shoppers to try them. 

In other words, you don’t have to be a strict vegan to buy the latest brand of oat milk or plant butter.  

And, more and more consumers are trying the plant-based versions of more traditional products, knowingly or unknowingly adopting a flexible vegetarian status known “flexitarian.”

The term flexitarian was coined in 2009 by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner who promoted eating more plants and less meat overall, or rather, being vegetarian most of the time. The diet is geared to promote overall health while not totally depriving followers of animal-based products.  

Because of the lax guidelines that allow for mostly eating more veggies that the diet promotes, consumers are increasingly adopting it in one form or another—and eating more vegan products than ever.  

Consider the success story of Beyond Meat, the plant-based burger company whose stocks skyrocketed after going public in May 2019, up 213% by November. According to UBS investment, Beyond Meat’s sales could reach $1.8 billion by 2025.

Who is buying Beyond Meat’s plant-based burgers? It’s not just vegans, but meat eaters, too. 

As the number of vegans (including those with part-time buy-in) is on the rise, so is the unprecedented demand for plant-based products in grocery stores, restaurants, and beyond.

What is Veganism?

Vegetarian diets typically eliminate meat and fish but allow for the consumption of eggs and dairy. Veganism is much more restrictive, eliminating all items of animal origin, including any food made with animal flesh, dairy products, eggs, or honey. The authentic Vegan lifestyle goes further, extending beyond food consumption to everything from textiles to clothing and cosmetics.

Generally, veganism offers three primary features: (1) additional curtailment of animal mistreatment and slaughter, (2) reduction of certain health risks, and (3) decrease of environmental footprint. 

That’s right, it’s good for the environment. 

Beyond being healthy for our bodies, veganism is promoted as a tool to combat climate change. Raising meat requires a massive use of grain and water. After slaughter, farmed animals are processed, transported, and stored, requiring the consumption of even more energy. Plant-based options tend to be more environmentally friendly. 

The number of people choosing to live a vegan lifestyle worldwide is on the rise.  In the United States, the demographic has grown by 600 percent between 2014 and 2018, from 4 million to 20 million people. The vegan population in the UK similarly quadrupled between 2014 and 2018.

This growth of veganism in conjunction with non- or sometimes-vegan consumers who buy plant-based foods for health and environmental reasons means a fast-growing market and more investment opportunities than ever. 

Why Invest in Veganism?

Vegan products are a $7.1 billion market, growing at a rate of 10.1%. The plant-based meat market alone is anticipated to be valued at $27.9 billion by 2025 globally. 

The market for other plant-based dairy alternatives, like cheese and milk, are also growing at unprecedented rates. Milk alternatives include soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and flaxseed milk. According to a recent study, the global dairy alternatives market is expected to grow, reaching $26.86 billion by 2023. 

Alternatives to traditional butter exist as well. The US plant-based butter industry is valued at $198 million and growing. Between 2017 and 2019, sales of plant-based butter increased 15%, growing faster than the sales of traditional butter.

And these trends are going mainstream. In addition to niche plant-based butter brands like Milkadamia and Miyoko, Country Crock debuted its “Plant Butter” made with olive oil, avocado oil, and almond oil in September 2019. Non-dairy yogurts made with almonds, cashews, or coconut are also on the rise. 

This phenomenon isn’t just on grocery store shelves, but in restaurants, too. White Castle offers the Impossible Sliders, Burger King offers the Impossible Whopper, and Carl’s Jr.’s offers the charbroiled Beyond Famous Star. 

And, Wall Street is taking notice the sales of plant-based products. Beyond Investing introduced the US Vegan Climate ETF, listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker VEGN, in fall 2019. The ETF excludes oil-related stocks as well as meat-centric companies. 

Vegans are passionate about the environment and their health. And, no matter what degree of vegan one is, they are willing to pay the cash for the burger that’s just as good or maybe even better than the meat alternative. 

In other words, plant-based products are here to stay, and varieties and consumer buy-in are sure to grow.

How to Invest in Veganism

But getting involved in a market segment as large and diverse as veganism — which impacts everything from food & beverage, to personal care, clothing and more — isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. But, by investing in mutual funds and ETFs that offer exposure to veganism as a whole, investors can spread their impact out to all of the companies that are working in this sector. A search on Magnifi suggests there are a number of ways for investors to get involved in veganism this way.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today. 

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


cancer treatment

Cancer Treatment

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s awful for the hundreds of thousands of patients and their families impacted by it. 

But, there is hope. 

A new 2020 American Cancer Society report shows the largest single-year drop, 2.2%, in the rate of people dying from cancer ever recorded in 2017, the most recent year tracked.  

Even more promising, the report indicates that the rate of people dying from cancer has dropped every year for 26 straight years. 

How did we get here? More effective early detection, treatment advances, and lifestyle changes, for starters. But there is a lot more innovation that’s happening in modern cancer care that’s improving the odds for cancer patients everywhere. These new technologies include: 

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Artificial Intelligence for Cancer Care

The modern healthcare system is today based on electronic health data. Now, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) technology, we are finally able to more efficiently analyze and categorize that data, allowing researchers to identify disease and treatment trends that are leading to a better understanding of the elements that affect cancer growth or decline. Moreover, researchers and clinicians alike are now able to more quickly access and compare information about patients with similar cancers.  

The startup company, Paige (Pathology AI Guidance Engine), for example, applies AI-based methods to better map the pathology of cancer. Paige raised $45 million in funding in late 2019. 

The Cancer Genomics Cloud (CGC), which houses a number of cancer data sets, including the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), makes a huge amount of data available to researchers quickly and securely.

These technological efforts are leading both to increasingly personalized cancer care and new treatment options in the fight for a cure. 

Genomics Testing for Better Cancer Treatment

Liquid biopsies investigate “any type of specimen other than tissue — including blood, urine, and cerebral spinal fluid — that can be interrogated regarding the functionality of a cancer tumor.” An important tool in early detection, liquid biopsies can detect cancer before it becomes visible or shows symptoms. And, in the case of blood or urine specimens, the biopsies are non-invasive.

Guardant Health, a provider of liquid biopsies, saw its stock grow 78% in 2019. And that’s just the beginning. The market for liquid biopsies is projected to reach $6.5 billion by 2026, but could grow to as much as a $100 billion market by some estimates. 

Immunotherapy and Cancer

Immunotherapy harnesses the power of the immune system to help patients fight a wide range of diseases, including cancer. In the spring of 2018, there were 753 cell-based therapies in development according to the Cancer Research Institute. 

And, some are working magic for patients. Keytruda, approved to treat a range of cancers, brought in approximately $11.1 billion in sales for the drug giant, Merck

Improving Patient Access 

Beyond housing mass data for researchers and clinicians, the internet is giving cancer patients themselves a place to connect with vetted expert information and with other patients. 

SurvivorNet is a community of cancer patients and survivors, as well as a forum for expert information. Its goal is to increase access to information about treatment options. SurvivorNet recently raised $10M in a Series B funding round. 

Why Invest in Cancer Treatment?

When it comes to cancer, traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are still commonly used and are generally effective. But, they are also aggressive and indiscriminate, and often come with debilitating side effects (although medical cannabis has been shown to help ease these symptoms). 

As medicine becomes more personal, so too are cancer treatments, with doctors and researchers moving towards increasingly patient-centric therapies.

Why now? Electronic health records, genetic testing, big data analytics, and supercomputing are the tools of precision care, and now, doctors and scientists have them. The results are both better targeted therapies available to patients sooner after diagnosis and cancer treatment options that are both in development and widely available multiplying fast. 

This leaves investors with lots of options. Not only are there new therapies and drugs on the market, there are new testing technologies, AI companies, and online platforms that have the potential to be the next big thing. 

How to Invest in the Future of Cancer Care

Cancer is something that we all want to beat. And, these days, our chances of actually accomplishing that goal are better than ever.

As new technologies become commercialized, millions will be diagnosed earlier and successfully connected with their cures. It won’t happen overnight, though. It will happen one breakthrough at a time.

Picking those winners ahead of time is difficult, however, and typically calls for advanced medical research knowledge and understanding that most investors simply don’t have. But, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from cancer care innovation as a whole via mutual funds and ETFs.

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