Every few years there is a breakthrough that changes medicine forever.
For me, a technology called “CRISPR” is the game changer that we have all been waiting for … and it just got one step closer to becoming a reality.
Picture the “find and replace” function in word processing software. Once the word is found, you have the option to delete, edit, or replace it.
Now picture the same options but with a human gene. Find a defective gene and delete, edit, or replace it — and you’ve just cured a disease.
It’s amazing. And so is it’s potential.
Victoria Gray is the first patient with sickle cell anemia to be treated with this gene editing technology. She is being monitored now after doctors “edited” billions of her bone marrow cells and put them back into her body.
Over the past six years, a small group of scientists working at different institutes have made incredible progress in this revolutionary new field. The most exciting aspect of CRISPR is its potential to wipe out not one but thousands of diseases that currently have no cure. Millions of lives could be saved.
CRISPR is an acronym for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” (We’ll stick with CRISPR, which we can pronounce “crisper.”) To be honest, it took me months of reading and talking to experts to fully understand all the scientific implications, but the more research I did, the more excited I became about the future of medicine.
Here’s how it works …
The first step is to map the patient’s genome, and the next step is to identify the mutated gene(s). Once mutations are found, a protein (Cas9) is used to identify the sequence where the mutated gene will either be edited (Cut & Revise in the chart below), deleted (Cut & Remove), or replaced (Cut & Replace).
CRISPR could be the secret weapon that will one day eliminate diseases that currently have no cure.
Take Victoria Gray’s sickle cell disease. It’s a disorder in which a person lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body. It affects more than 100,000 people in the U.S, and another two million people have the trait. One in every 13 African-American babies (7.7%) is born with the trait.
Sickle cell disease is caused by one genetic mutation — one “misspelled letter” of DNA. It is what’s called a “monogenic disease.” According to the World Health Organization, there are 10,000 known monogenic diseases. Others include cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and Huntington’s disease.
If this one bad gene can be replaced, it could essentially wipe out a disease that causes severe pain and often premature death. Gray is 34 and hoping to survive her 40s to see her children grow up.
About 95% of those 10,000 monogenic diseases go untreated. What’s more, one in every 100 newborns has some type of monogenic disease from birth. And it’s amazing to think that CRISPR technology could one day make it possible to cure newborns of any of the thousands of monogenic diseases.
CRISPR’s ultimate potential is even bigger. Doctors are also researching CRISPR as a possible cancer treatment. A company named CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP) is enrolling patients in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in CTX001, which is what’s called a CAR T-cell therapeutic treatment. T-cells are immune system cells, and CAR T-cell therapy takes those cells from the patient and changes them in the lab, essentially programming them to target the cancer cells.
The company is also working on treatments in which the gene editing would take place inside the body.
To be clear, we are still years away from being able to fully cure diseases using CRISPR. But from an investing viewpoint, this is the time to get in the stocks if you have a long-term perspective. By the time every magazine and newspaper is touting the life-altering ability of this new technology, it will be too late.
In early stage industries, I like to invest in a basket of stocks. That’s what we’re doing with gene editing stocks in my Early Stage Investor service. Once CRISPR technology gets close to approval, I expect the market caps of the stocks I’m recommending will jump to around $20 billion, which is a 13-bagger from current valuations.
We don’t get many chances to invest in a once-in-a-lifetime, game-changing medical breakthrough. We need to take full advantage.
Matthew McCall left Wall Street to actually help investors — by getting them into the world’s biggest, most revolutionary trends BEFORE anyone else. The power of being “first” gave Matt’s readers the chance to bank +2,438% in Stamps.com (STMP), +1,523% in Ulta Beauty (ULTA) and +1,044% in Tesla (TSLA), just to name a few. Click here to see what Matt has up his sleeve now. Matt does not directly own the aforementioned securities.