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5 Small Biotech ETFs

Want to invest in small biotech ETFs? INN profiles five examples that life science investors may want to look into.
The post 5 Small Biotech ETFs appeared first on Investing News Network.

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Thanks to exchange-traded funds (ETFs), investors don’t have to be tied to one specific stock. Biotech ETFs allow market participants to invest in multiple biotech companies via one vehicle.

The life science sector certainly holds a risk factor, and ETFs are a good way to enter the industry more safely than by investing in potentially risky small-cap stocks. A key advantage is that even if one company in the group takes a hit, the impact will be less direct.

Below the Investing News Network takes a look at five small biotech ETFs for investors to consider. They were selected using ETFdb.com and their total assets under management (AUM) were under US$100 million as of May 18, 2021. All other figures were also current as of that date.

 

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1. Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF (NASDAQ:CNCR)

AUM: US$42.19 million

The Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF was launched in October 2015, and tracks 32 holdings focused on cancer therapies that use the body’s own immune system. Of its holdings, the majority are small caps in the clinical-stage biotech sector, with a handful of large-cap immunotherapy leaders.

The top five biotech stocks in this ETF are I-MAB (NASDAQ:IMAB) at 6.07 percent; BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) at a 5.57 percent weight; BeiGene (NASDAQ:BGNE) with a 5.19 percent weightage; MacroGenics (NASDAQ:MGNX) at 4.88 percent; and Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) at 4.16 percent.

2. Virtus LifeSci Biotech Clinical Trials ETF (ARCA:BBC)

AUM: US$40.63 million

This fund tracks biotech companies that are listed in the US and have lead drugs in clinical trials. ETF.com refers to it as a “high-risk and high-reward bet” with a specific focus.

There are 160 holdings included in this biotechnology fund, which came to market in December 2014. Its top holdings are Amyris (NASDAQ:AMRS), weighing 2.66 percent; Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ:RUBY) at a weight of 2.08 percent; Prothena (NASDAQ:PRTA), weighing 1.28 percent; BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:BCRX) at 1.16 percent in weight; and I-MAB, clocking in at 1.14 percent.

3. iShares Evolved US Innovative Healthcare ETF (BATS:IEIH)

AUM: US$35.85 million

The iShares Evolved US Innovative Healthcare ETF tracks US-listed pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with exposure to innovations in the healthcare sector. This BlackRock-issued fund is fairly new and invests at least 80 percent of its assets in large-, mid- and small-cap companies.

  Life Science and Healthcare Investing report cover

Life Science and Healthcare Investing in 2021

 
The life science and healthcare market is a booming, multi-billion dollar industry. Read our 2021 life science outlook report!
 

There are 250 holdings included in this biotechnology fund, which was launched in March 2018. Its top holdings are Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), weighing 10.3 percent; Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), weighing 6.35 percent; AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), weighing 6.26 percent; Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK), weighing 6.26 percent; and Ely Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY), weighing 5.18 percent.

4. Virtus LifeSci Biotech Products ETF (ARCA:BBP)

AUM: US$28.27 million

The Virtus LifeSci Biotech Products ETF offers investors access to a portfolio of biotech product companies that have a minimum of one drug therapy approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

With 48 companies in its portfolio, the ETF’s top five holdings are BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), which holds a weight of 3.92 percent; Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AGIO) with a weight of 3.54 percent; BeiGene (NASDAQ:BGNE) at 3.23 percent; Intra-Cellular Therapies (NASDAQ:ITCI) at 3.23 percent; and Vanda Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VNDA) at 3.06 percent. It was initiated in December 2014.

5. Defiance NASDAQ Junior Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:IBBJ)

AUM: US$7.32 million

Launched in August 2020, the Defiance NASDAQ Junior Biotechnology ETF is the newest ETF on the list. It tracks the total return performance of the NASDAQ Junior Biotechnology Index, offering investors liquid, transparent and low-cost exposure to junior biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

With 237 companies in its portfolio, the ETF’s top five holdings are Zai Lab (NASDAQ:ZLAB), which holds a weight of 2.85 percent; BridgeBio Pharma (NASDAQ:BBIO) with a weight of 2.49 percent; Fate Therapeutics (NASDAQ:FATE) at 2.21 percent; ImmunityBio (NASDAQ:IBRX) at 1.96 percent; and Medpace Holdings (NASDAQ:MEDP) at 1.79 percent.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2015.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates! 

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

  Life Science and Healthcare Investing report cover

Life Science and Healthcare Investing in 2021

 
The life science and healthcare market is a booming, multi-billion dollar industry. Read our 2021 life science outlook report!
 

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Spread & Containment

AstraZeneca antibody cocktail fails to prevent Covid-19 symptoms in large trial

AstraZeneca said a late-stage trial failed to provide evidence that the company’s Covid-19 antibody therapy protected people who had contact with an infected person from the disease, a small setback in its efforts to find alternatives to vaccines.

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Astra antibody cocktail fails to prevent COVID-19 symptoms in large trial

(Reuters; )

June 15 (Reuters) – AstraZeneca (AZN.L) said on Tuesday a late-stage trial failed to provide evidence that its COVID-19 antibody therapy protected people who had contact with an infected person from the disease, a small setback in its efforts to find alternatives to vaccines.

The study assessed whether the therapy, a cocktail of two types of antibodies, could prevent adults who had been exposed to the virus in the past eight days from developing COVID-19 symptoms.

The therapy, AZD7442, was 33% effective in reducing the risk of people developing symptoms compared with a placebo, but that result was not statistically significant — meaning it might have been due to chance and not the therapy.

The Phase III study, which has not been peer reviewed, included 1,121 participants in the United Kingdom and the United States. The vast majority, though not all, were free of the virus at the start of the trial.

Results for a subset of participants who were not infected to begin with was more encouraging but the primary analysis rested on results from all participants.

FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS

“While this trial did not meet the primary endpoint against symptomatic illness, we are encouraged by the protection seen in the PCR negative participants following treatment with AZD7442,” AstraZeneca Executive Vice President Mene Pangalos said in a statement.

The company is banking on further studies to revive the product’s fortunes. Five more trials are ongoing, testing the antibody cocktail as treatment or in prevention.

The next one will likely be from a larger trial testing the product in people with a weakened immune system due to cancer or an organ transplant, who may not benefit from a vaccine.

TARGETED ALTERNATIVES

AZD7442 belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies which mimic natural antibodies produced by the body to fight off infections.

Similar therapies developed by rivals Regeneron (REGN.O) and Eli Lilly (LLY.N) have been approved by U.S. regulators for treating unhospitalised COVID patients.

European regulators have also authorised Regeneron’s therapy and are reviewing those developed by partners GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and Vir Biotechnology (VIR.O) as well as by Lilly and Celltrion (068270.KS).

Regeneron is also seeking U.S. authorisation for its therapy as a preventative treatment.

But the AstraZeneca results are a small blow for the drug industry as it tries to find more targeted alternatives to COVID-19 inoculations, particularly for people who may not be able to get vaccinated or those who may have an inadequate response to inoculations.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, which has faced a rollercoaster of challenges with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine, is also developing new treatments and repurposing existing drugs to fight the virus.

AstraZeneca also said on Tuesday it was in talks with the U.S. government on “next steps” regarding a $205 million deal to supply up to 500,000 doses of AZD7442. Swiss manufacturer Lonza (LONN.S) was contracted to produce AZD7442.

Shares in the company were largely unchanged on the London Stock Exchange.

The full results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal, the company said.

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

Reuters source:

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/astrazeneca-says-its-antibody-treatment-failed-in-preventing-covid-19-exposed-2021-06-15

 

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Government

Former FDA Head Takes on Exec Role at Flagship’s Preemptive Health Initiative

Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under former President Donald Trump, took on a new role as chief medical officer of a new health security initiative launched by Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences venture firm…

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Former FDA Head Takes on Exec Role at Flagship’s Preemptive Health Initiative

 

Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under former President Donald Trump, has taken on a new role as chief medical officer of a new health security initiative launched by Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences venture firm that incubates and curates biopharma companies.

First announced Monday, Flagship’s Preemptive Medicine and Health Security initiative aimed at developing products that can help people before they get sick. This division will focus on infectious disease threats and pursue bold treatments for existing diseases, including cancer, obesity, and neurodegeneration. 

In a brief statement, Hahn, who served as commissioner from December 2019 until January 2021, said the importance of investing in innovation and preemptive medications has never been more apparent. 

“In my career I have been a doctor and a researcher foremost and it is an honor to join Flagship Pioneering in its efforts to prioritize innovation, particularly in its Preemptive Medicine and Health Security Initiative. The more we can embrace a “what if …” approach the better we can support and protect the health and well-being of people here in the U.S. and around the world,” Hahn said in a statement. 

During his time at the FDA, Hahn was at the forefront of the government’s effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. His office oversaw the regulatory authorization of antivirals, antibody therapeutics and vaccines, as well as diagnostics and other tools to battle the novel coronavirus. 

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Hahn bore the brunt of verbal barbs aimed at the FDA by the former president for not rushing to authorize a vaccine for COVID-19 ahead of the November 2020 election. The second vaccine authorized by the FDA for COVID-19 was developed by Moderna, a Flagship company. 

Prior to his confirmation as FDA Commissioner, Hahn, a well-respected oncologist, served as chief medical executive of the vaunted The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Hahn was named deputy president and chief operating officer in 2017. In that role, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the cancer center, which includes managing more than 21,000 employees and a $5.2 billion operating budget. He was promoted to that position two years after joining MD Anderson as division head, department chair and professor of Radiation Oncology. Prior to MD Anderson, Hahn served as head of the radiation oncology department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Flagship Founder and Chief Executive Officer Noubar Afeyan said the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down economies and caused the deaths of more than 3.8 million people across the world was an important reminder that health security is a top global priority. In addition, the ongoing pandemic brings into “stark focus” the importance of preemptive medications. 

Hahn, who helmed the FDA for three years and before that served as chief medical executive at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has extensive experience overseeing clinical and administrative programs. Afeyan said the new division would benefit from Hahn’s experience as FDA Commissioner and help steer the Preemptive Medicine and Health Security initiative as it explores Flagship’s “growing number of explorations and companies in this emerging field.”

It is not unusual for former FDA heads to take prominent roles with companies. For example, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s first FDA Commissioner, took a position on the Pfizer Board of Directors weeks after departing his government role. He has also taken positions on other boards since then, including Aetion, FasterCures and Illumina.

 

BioSpace source:

https://www.biospace.com/article/former-fda-head-stephen-hahn-takes-cmo-role-at-flagship-pioneering-preemptive-health-initiative-

 

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Government

Five U.S. states had coronavirus infections even before first reported cases – study

At least seven people in five U.S. states were infected with the novel coronavirus weeks before those states reported their first cases, a new government study showed.

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Five U.S. states had coronavirus infections even before first reported cases – study

(Reuters) – At least seven people in five U.S. states were infected with the novel coronavirus weeks before those states reported their first cases, a new government study showed.

Participants who reported antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 were likely exposed to the virus at least several weeks before their sample was taken, as the antibodies do not appear until about two weeks after a person has been infected, the researchers said.

The latest results build on findings from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that suggested the novel coronavirus may have been circulating in the United States last December, well before the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed on Jan. 19, 2020.

A protective face mask lays, as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, beside leaves at the lakefront in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., December 6, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon/File Photo

The positive samples came from Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and were part of a study of more than 24,000 blood samples taken for a National Institutes of Health research program between Jan. 2 and March 18, 2020.

Samples from participants in Illinois were collected on Jan. 7 and Massachusetts on Jan. 8, suggesting that the virus was present in those states as early as late December.

“This study allows us to uncover more information about the beginning of the U.S. epidemic,” said Josh Denny, one of the study authors.

The findings were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

Reuters source:

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/five-us-states-had-coronavirus-infections-even-before-first-reported-cases-study-2021-06-15

 

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