New advances in synthetic biology uncovers lucrative investment opportunities for advisors.
Sponsored by one of Novo Nordisk’s global research groups, a team of scientists recently installed one of the largest biosynthetic pathways––a series of biochemical reactions that occur inside an organism––into a strain of brewer’s yeast, Simon Barnett, ARK Invest’s director of research, life sciences, wrote in a September 12 newsletter.
“This modified yeast strain produced Vinblastine, a popular anti-cancer medication that relies on a rare plant called the Madagascar periwinkle that fell victim to COVID-19 supply chain bottlenecks,” Barnett said. “Novo Nordisk’s synthetic biology breakthrough solved that problem for this much-needed anti-cancer medicine.”
Synthetic biology involves genetically engineering tiny organisms like bacteria, giving them abilities that improve medicine, manufacturing, and agriculture, according to Barnett. With the convergence of high-throughput, low-cost platform technologies like CRISPR gene-editing and next-generation sequencing (NGS), synthetic biologists can design, build, and test organismal designs faster and more cost-effectively than in the past, leading to an explosion in innovation.
“In our view, this accomplishment offers a glimpse into the enormous human and economic value that synthetic biology is likely to create,” Barnett wrote. “Moreover, most of the research is generalizable across more than 3,000 natural products closely related to Vinblastine. Among them is vinorelbine—a chemotherapy recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an essential medicine. As artificial intelligence (AI), genomic sequencing, and genome editing continues to improve, we are excited to see the strides that synthetic biology will make in producing medicine cost-effectively and at scale.”
Investors can gain exposure to the advancements in synthetic biology with the ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG). ARKG is an actively managed equity strategy that aims to provide exposure to DNA sequencing technology, gene editing, CRISPR, therapeutics, agricultural biology, and molecular diagnostics.
Companies within ARKG are focused on and are expected to substantially benefit from extending and enhancing the quality of human and other life by incorporating technological and scientific developments and advancements in genomics into their businesses, according to the firm.
ARKG typically holds between 40 and 60 securities and charges an expense ratio of 75 basis points. Top holdings in the fund include Exact Sciences Corp (EXAS), Signify Health Inc (SGFY), Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS), Teladoc Health Inc (TDOC), and CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP).
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