Amid Big Media’s saturation coverage of the coronavirus panic, an important new medical breakthrough received scant attention.
After all, TV, radio, websites, newspapers, magazines and social media were riveted with stories about the spread of the new pandemic.
But working quietly behind the scenes, a team from Stanford University reported a new breakthrough in anti-aging biotech.
Indeed, the team discovered a way to “reset” the age of human cells – all the way back to zero.
Make no mistake. This is a major step forward. At the very least it could help cut the impact of osteoporosis that afflicts older people and costs the U.S. more than $75 billion a year.
A Lucrative Struggle Against Time
Now then, if all the new anti-aging advance did was cut down the number of osteoporosis that alone would be huge.
The federal government says there are 5.3 million Americans, mostly women, who suffer from the condition that causes bones to become fragile.
And with an aging population, another 34 million people in the U.S. could come down with the disease in the next few years, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
But the Stanford team’s recent breakthrough will likely have a much wider effect on our entire aging process.
That’s because it’s based on groundbreaking work that yielded a Nobel Prize in medicine in 2012. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka had developed four compounds that could turn any cell back to a completely blank slate, just like it had been before it had specialized into becoming a muscle cell, nerve cell, and so on.
There was just one problem. Full reversal into disease-fighting embryonic cells didn’t work in live animals. So, it had little real-world, disease-fighting potential.
Enter the Stanford team. They reversed aging in cells without having them lose their identity, and without the cells growing out of control.
For example, cartilage cells from patients suffering with osteoarthritis were treated, and stopped producing the inflammatory markers that set off that disease.
A successful treatment to turn back the clock for our bodies even by a little would be a huge financial windfall for biotech, a sector Global Market Insights says will be worth $729 billion by 225.
You Don’t Have to Pick the Winners Yourself
That’s why I continue to recommend the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) – and if you aren’t in it already, now is a great time to at least put it on your watchlist.
This low-cost ETF gives you broad exposure to the best of breed in biotech. This includes a wide range of cutting-edge drugs and medical devices already being sold around the world, including those in the work to combat Covid-19.
IBB has positions in 219 biotech stocks. Some of its top holdings include:
- Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD). IBB’s largest holding, this biotech has products that fight HIV/AIDS as well as liver, heart and respiratory diseases. It also has products that fight parasitic infections and blindness. But Gilead has recently been making waves because its anti-viral drug remdesivir is rapidly being investigated by the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration as a potential treatment against the new coronavirus sweeping the globe.
- Amgen Inc. (AMGN). It sells medicines to treats cancers, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis and bone disease. It also has products used to thwart anemia and inflammations. Founded in 1980 in the Southern California city of Sherman Oaks, the company is considered a pioneer in the field. It now boasts more than 20 drugs on the market and reaches patients in more than 100 countries.
- Moderna Inc. (MRNA) is developing a vaccine against coronavirus in record time. Its candidate was ready for Phase 1 trials just 42 days after the virus’s genome was first decoded. Moderna’s ground-breaking approach to vaccines tricks the human body into itself producing some of the proteins the virus carries on its surface. It’s also working on vaccines against the Zika virus, as well as treatments for heart failure, autoimmune disorders, and some cancers.
- Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (REGN). It’s mainly known for EYLEA, a compound that combats age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness among older folks. But it has six different drugs on the market, including one used to treat advanced forms of colorectal cancer. On March 17, the firm said it had isolated antibodies from humans who have recovered from COVID-19, in order to maximize the pool of potential treatment molecules.
With companies like these making up the ETF, you don’t have to pick and choose the winners.
The fund managers do all the heavy lifting for a fee of a mere 0.46%. That means you can sit back, relax – and watch the profits roll in for years to come.
Look, if there’s one thing we as investors can learn from the coverage of the coronavirus crisis, it’s that biotech will play a huge role in solving medical challenges that affect us all.
Whether it’s the new coronavirus, longevity, arthritis, or cancer, biotech companies deal with necessities, not wants.
That makes IBB a great way to set your portfolio up for the market’s rebound with something you can count on for years to come.
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Cheers and good investing,
Michael A. Robinson