Before we dive into how to invest in genetics, let’s first examine what genetics means. As the name suggests, genetics refers to the study of genes, their characteristics, and how genetic traits are passed on from generation to generation. One of the areas of research in genetics is gene editing, which looks to modify or change an organism’s DNA by adding, removing, or altering particular locations in a gene. Gene editing can help in the prevention and treatment of diseases.
One more thing, while genetics and genomics are terms that are used interchangeably, the difference between genomics and genetics, as explained by the World Health Organization, is that genetics scrutinizes the functioning and composition of a single gene. In contrast, genomics addresses all genes and their interrelationships to identify their combined influence on the growth and development of organisms.
CRISPR technology is an important development in the field of genetics. CRISPR is a powerful gene editing tool that researchers use to alter the DNA sequences easily and to modify how genes function. Through CRISPR gene editing, it may be possible to rectify genetic errors that cause diseases. For example, CRISPR gene editing technology can modify immune cells in such a way that they can destroy cancer cells and aid in the treatment of cancer. It can also be used to identify genes that are responsible for cellular processes that lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and find new treatments for them. CRISPR may also be used to develop drugs that treat various diseases such as heart diseases, blood disorders, and so on. For a deep dive into CRISPR, you can refer to our previous blog on synthetic biology here.
The field of genetics may not only improve human lives and our ability to fight diseases, but it is also an area that may offer promising returns for investors in the years to come. According to Genetic Market Insights, the Gene Editing Market size surpassed USD 5.4 bn in 2021 and is expected to witness a CAGR of 15.5% from 2022 to 2030 owing to technological advancement driven by the rapidly evolving CRISPR technology and its wide range of applications.
Here is how you can add genetics exposure to your portfolio.
Invest in genetics through stocks
The US markets are home to some of the most cutting-edge companies in the field of genetics. You may invest in genetics through stocks of companies in this space. Some options include BioNTech SE (BNTX), which develops and commercializes immunotherapies for cancer and other infectious diseases, CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP) (a gene editing company), and Bionano Genomics Inc (BNGO), which provides genome analysis software solutions. There are also other companies in this space that specialize in different areas of gene technology.
Invest in genetics through ETFs
Since this is a specialized area, retail investors may find it challenging to identify genetics stocks to invest in. ETFs are a good option if you want to diversify your investments across the industry rather than invest in individual stocks. One such ETF is the ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG) which invests at least 80% of its assets in companies in sectors such as healthcare, information technology, materials, energy, and consumer discretionary. Some of its top holdings include Exact Sciences Corporation (a molecular diagnostics company specializing in detecting early-stage cancers), CRISPR Therapeutics, and Twist Bioscience Corp (a semiconductor-based synthetic DNA manufacturing company).
The genetics industry may be complex to understand and genetic engineering technologies are still in their nascent stages. Still, it makes a strong investment case for those who believe in the potential of these technologies. Investors should be aware that this is a high-risk area and it would be wise to ensure that your investments are not concentrated in this sector.