How to Invest in Immunotherapy

14 Nov 2022

Investing Interests
Microscopic view of florescent organisms.

Immunotherapies harness the power of your body's immune system to fight disease.

Copy Link

Invest in Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy isn’t entirely new, but it’s quickly becoming a major player in the world of cancer care and treatment. The global immunotherapy market is estimated to reach $196.45 billion by 2030 (1). While that might sound enormous, it’s just numbers compared to the impact it has in a doctor’s office when immunotherapy treatment gives a newly diagnosed cancer patient hope.

Immunotherapy is still an emerging technology and has not been as widely used as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery to treat cancer, but it is anticipated to become the leading treatment for malignancies in the coming years (2). Immunotherapy treatments are also presenting a frontier of innovative solutions that are driving growth in pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

What is immunotherapy?

Our immune systems are smart. A “collection of organs, special cells, and substances” that keep tabs on what’s supposed to be happening in our bodies, and what’s not (3). When the immune system notices a germ that contains unusual proteins that are out of place, it attacks.

What happens when normal cells start to change in subtle ways, but nothing is really out of place? That is until the healthy cells start to become more unusual and grow in an uncontrolled way. This is cancer, defined as “a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells” (4). And, because it starts in healthy cells, it can be so tricky for the immune system to stop it before it’s too late.

Immunotherapy is changing that.

According to the American Cancer Society, “immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases” (5).

Immunotherapy works in one of two ways: Either by “stimulating, or boosting, the natural defenses of your immune system so it works harder or smarter to find and attack cancer cells,” or by “making substances in a lab that are just like immune system components and using them to help restore or improve how your immune system works to find and attack cancer cells” (6).

In other words, it helps a patient’s immune system recognize cancer and attack.

Why Invest in Immunotherapy?

In 2021, there will be an estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society (7). These new cases are in addition to the estimated 16.9 million Americans living with a previous history of invasive cancer (8). Immunotherapy is changing the course of treatment for many of those diagnoses when previously options were limited to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

New immunotherapy drugs are most commonly being used to fight lung, breast, and prostate cancers. And, even more exciting, they are getting in the cancer game sooner than ever. Coined immuno-oncology (IO) drugs, this subset of immunotherapy drugs gives a patient’s immune system the ability to fight cancer cells at an early stage (9). This can make other more traditional treatments, like surgery, more effective, or potentially unnecessary all together.

Immunotherapies are becoming increasingly more complex. For example, immunotherapies are increasingly being combined in creative ways to treat GI cancers. Even more, simple blood tests have shown to identify which patients may have the most success with immunotherapies (10).

The applications of immunotherapy extend way beyond cancer alone. Immunotherapies are being tested and applied to everything from autoimmune diseases to allergies. As a preventative treatment, immunotherapy for allergies can train the body to slowly become less allergic to a specific substance. Typically, an allergen is given via an allergy shot in incrementally larger doses which causes the immune system to “become less sensitive” to the allergen. Over time, small incremental doses train and change the immune system, building up a tolerance for allergens. Treatments typically happen over the course of three to five years, according to the Mayo Clinic (11).

Immunotherapy was even applied to COVID-19 research. The Infectious Disease Research Institute has reported positive results following a clinical trial focused on the treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19 cases. And, because “in many ways, cancer behaves like a virus,” the same immunotherapy tools being used to fight cancer are also being employed in the development of COVID-19 vaccines (12).

If personalized medicine is the care model of the future, immunotherapy, or using a patient’s immune system to battle disease, is as personal as it gets. And already delivering results and finding applications well beyond cancer.

How to invest in immunotherapy

Many key players in the development of new immunotherapies are publicly traded pharmaceuticals company that you can invest in, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology stocks:

Additional information on companies involved in immunotherapy can be found on Magnifi or on the Investor Relations section of their websites. In addition to investing in specific companies, several ETFs and mutual funds specifically focus on immunotherapy and biotechnology or invest in these companies. For example, a search for “Funds that hold AMGN, AZN and BMY” brought up a Global X Fund called “Global X Aging Population” that specifically focuses on investments in “companies positioned to serve the world’s growing senior population through exposure to health care, pharmaceuticals, senior living facilities and other sectors that contribute to increasing lifespans and extending quality of life in advanced age” (13).

To get started try searching:

References:

  1. “Cancer Immunotherapy Market Worth $196.45 Billion By 2030,” Grand View Research, October 2022, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-cancer-immunotherapy-market.
  2. “Cancer Immunotherapy Market Worth $196.45 Billion By 2030,” Grand View Research.
  3. “How Immunotherapy Is Used to Treat Cancer,” American Cancer Society, https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/immunotherapy/what-is-immunotherapy.html
  4. “Cancer,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/tracking/topics/Cancer.htm#:~:text=Cancer%20is%20a%20group%20of,and%20death%20in%20United%20States.
  5. “How Immunotherapy Is Used to Treat Cancer,” American Cancer Society, https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/immunotherapy/what-is-immunotherapy.html
  6. “How Immunotherapy Is Used to Treat Cancer,” American Cancer Society.
  7. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2021,” American Cancer Society, page 1.
  8. “Cancer Facts and Figures 2021,” American Cancer Society, page 1.
  9. “DeRosseau, Ryan, “‘Miracle’ cancer treatments could be a blessing for investors too,” Fortune, 13 February 2020, https://fortune.com/2020/02/13/pharma-stocks-investing-cancer-treatment/.
  10. University Health Network, “A blood test could predict who benefits from immunotherapy,” 3 August 2020, https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-08-blood-benefits-immunotherapy.html.
  11. “Allergy Shots,” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/allergy-shots/about/pac-20392876
  12. “Scientists Identify Targets for COVID-19 Vaccine Using Cancer Immunotherapy Tools,” Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 8 June 2020, https://www.chop.edu/news/scientists-identify-targets-covid-19-vaccine-using-cancer-immunotherapy-tools
  13. “AGNG: Aging Population ETF,” https://www.globalxetfs.com/funds/agng/
Copy Link

Recent blog posts

How to Invest in Innovation

The what, why and how of investing in innovation.

14 Nov 2022

Investing Interests

How to Invest in Uranium

How and why to invest in uranium. Uranium powers nuclear reactors, which generate about 10% of the world's electricity

14 Nov 2022

Investing Interests

Disclosures

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. Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of all innovation-related securities before investing. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. ETFs and mutual funds are actively managed and there is no guarantee that the manager’s investment decisions will produce the desired results. All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal. ETFs trade like stocks, fluctuate in market value and may trade at prices above or below their net asset value. Brokerage commissions and fund expenses will reduce returns. You should carefully consider a fund’s investment goals, risks, charges and expenses before investing. Download a summary prospectus and/or prospectus, which contains this and other information and read it before you invest or send money.