The healthcare and biotech industries faced numerous headwinds in 2022. The pandemic continued to make headlines with a huge surge in COVID-19 infections in China. Viruses including monkey pox, flu, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection rates were also unexpectedly high.1
It wasn’t all bad news in 2022. The healthcare and biotech industries saw a large number of exciting advancements. Here are some of the discoveries that made headlines in 2022.2
- A heart from a genetically modified pig is transplanted into a human for the first time
- Epstein-Barr virus is suggested as the leading cause of multiple sclerosis
- Laparoscopic surgery is performed entirely by a robot for the first time
- Biochemists complete the sequencing of the human genome
- Scientists 3D print an ear from a patient’s own cells
- Scientists invest an organ perfusion system that can restore multiple vital organs after death
- A cornea made from pig skin is shown to restore sight to blind people
- Numerous new therapies including a universal flu mRNA vaccine show promising results
The outlook for 2023 is just as exciting. Both Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, which are held by the fund, are making waves with a class of drugs known as incretins. Originally developed for diabetes treatments, the injectable incretins are the first drugs found to cause dramatic weight loss, allowing patients to lose an additional 15% to 20% of their weight.3
This has led analysts to project eventual annual sales of tens of billions of dollars for the class, as the U.S. and other countries battle widespread obesity.
New prescriptions of Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy are growing more than 60% year-over-year, meanwhile new prescriptions for Eli Lilly’s two incretins—Mounjaro and Trulicity—are up nearly 300%. Since Mounjaro’s May 2022 approval, the Eli Lilly injectable has captured 25% of the category’s new prescriptions.
In addition to obesity and diabetes breakthroughs, intriguing breakthroughs in 2023 could include a diabetes drug for Parkinson’s disease, treatments for ovarian cancer, clinical trials on Lecanemab for Alzheimer’s, and gene editing for sickle-cell disease.4
COMPANY SPECIFIC UPDATES
Medtronic plc recently announced the first patient enrolled in the Expand URO U.S. clinical trial for the Hugo robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) system. The robotic-assisted prostatectomy procedure was performed at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.5
Minimally invasive surgery, including robotic-assisted surgery, offers fewer complications, shorter hospital stays, faster return to normal activities, and smaller scars. Urological procedures are one of the most commonly performed with a surgical robot. The Hugo RAS system is intended to be used, in this study, for urologic surgical procedures including radical prostatectomy, radical cystectomy, and nephrectomy procedures.
Up to 122 patients will be enrolled in the study at six sites across the U.S. The Hugo RAS system is commercially available in certain geographies. In the U.S., the Hugo RAS system is an investigational device and is not yet for sale.
CSL Limited announced that the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended conditional marketing authorization of etranacogene dezaparvovec, under the brand name HEMGENIX.6
HEMGENIX is a one-time gene therapy for the treatment of hemophilia B in certain adults. A single infusion of etranacogene dezaparvovec reduces the rate of annual bleeds.
People with Hemophilia B, which is a life-threatening disease, are vulnerable to bleeds in their joints, muscles, and internal organs, leading to pain, swelling, and joint damage. Current treatments for moderate to severe hemophilia B include life-long infusions to temporarily replace or supplement low levels of the blood-clotting factor.
If the marketing authorization of HEMGENIX is approved by the European Commission, etranacogene dezaparvovec would be the first gene therapy for people living with hemophilia B in the European Union and European Economic Area.
Investing in Healthcare with LIFE ETF
The Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund (TSX Ticker: LIFE), LIFE ETF, is a convenient way to gain access to some of the world’s largest healthcare companies in one single investment solution.
LIFE ETF PORTFOLIO STRATEGY AND ACTIVITY
For the month, Siemens AG made the largest contribution to the Fund, followed by CSL Limited and Medtronic PLC. The largest detractors to performance for the month were Pfizer Inc., AbbVie Inc, and Johnson & Johnson. By weight, the Fund’s largest geographic exposure was to the United States, followed by Germany and Britain.
For more information about LIFE ETF, please visit https://evolveetfs.com/life/.
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- Schnirring, L., “US flu levels climb as RSV swamps kids’ hospitals,” University Of Minnesota, November 11, 2022; https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/influenza-general/us-flu-levels-climb-rsv-swamps-kids-hospitals.
- Belan, M., “Timeline: The Most Important Science headlines of 2022,” Visual Capitalist, January 5, 2023; https://www.visualcapitalist.com/science-headlines-of-2022/.
- Alpert, B., “Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk Get a Share-Price Pop From Weight-Loss Drugs,” Barron’s, January 25, 2023; https://www.barrons.com/articles/eli-lilly-weight-loss-drugs-51674601558.
- Arnold, C. and Webster, P., “11 clinical trials that will shape medicine in 2023,” Nature, December 23, 2022; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-022-02132-3#Sec1.
- “Medtronic announces first patient enrolled in U.S. clinical trial for Hugo™ robotic-assisted surgery system,” Medtronic plc, December 15, 2022; https://news.medtronic.com/2022-12-15-Medtronic-announces-first-patient-enrolled-in-U-S-clinical-trial-for-Hugo-TM-robotic-assisted-surgery-system.
- “CSL Receives Positive CHMP Opinion for Etranacogene Dezaparvovec – Gene Therapy for Adults with Hemophilia B,” CSL, December 16, 2022; https://newsroom.csl.com/2022-12-16-CSL-Receives-Positive-CHMP-Opinion-for-Etranacogene-Dezaparvovec-Gene-Therapy-for-Adults-with-Hemophilia-B.