What Would be the Biggest Scientific Revolution in Healthcare in 2020?

Given the alarming facts: a planet under attack of global warming, an inefficient healthcare system, a growing scepticism about the decency in the use of data by tech companies, and a turbulent political scene with one of the biggest elections scheduled in American history, 2020 will be a year that will truly need some scientific breakthroughs to make the world a better place.

In 2020, the rise of next generation of wireless network (5G) will act as a catalyst for improvements such as smart cities, smarter wearable devices, faster data generation, and accurate augmented reality eyewear. In parallel, AI will evolve further and its use in business, healthcare, and science will increase.

Following are the 4 major areas that we can look out for the healthcare industry in 2020.

Let us dive deep into these four areas:

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

It refers to a network of connected devices that can sense and collect vital patient information in real time. In 2019, IoMT had North America as its largest market, while Asia-Pacific was its fastest growing market across the globe.

Presently, high-speed networking technologies, healthcare outcomes, and the use of big data in healthcare are under evolution and IoMT devices play a huge role in collecting the vital data of patients.

A network provider company Aruba conducted research on nearly 3,100 IT companies including healthcare and business decision-makers across twenty countries, unveiling that nearly 87% of the healthcare organisations worldwide are expecting to implement IoT services by 2020 for improving the monitoring of patients and reducing costs. It is estimated that the IoMT market would surpass $158 billion by the year 2022.

A new pill containing a sensor to capture the time when the pill is taken has been discovered. The collected information is transmitted to a device worn by the patient and then stored in a smartphone. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to remember if the right dose of medication has been taken at the right time, especially when the patient is on regular medication cycle. Here, this pill will suffice the need; its adoption has been started in the treatment of schizophrenia and other medical issues.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology with a potential to change the way doctors operate medical ailments. Through Artificial Intelligence, machines can process information and take data-driven decisions just like humans. AI applications can improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis processes and can help in identifying developing concerns that would alarm practitioners to find the possible approaches for early treatment.

It has been reported that the FDA recently approved the first AI-based diagnostic device, which scans for eye diseases by examining photos of the retina. This system first captures and uploads the high-quality images and then the algorithm checks for probable signs of diabetic retinopathy. The software works with 87% accuracy in identifying the disorder when present, and 90% accuracy when the disease is not present.

Gene Editing

In 2020, CRISPR will be deployed in human body like a drug, as companies embark on a new stage of the gene-editing revolution. CRISPR can be described as a family of DNA sequences found in prokaryotic organisms’ genome including bacteria and archaea, helping them defending against viruses.

Cas9 is an enzyme that behaves like a molecular scissor. The CRISPR genetic code can guide Cas9 to explicit localities on the genome, letting scientists to eliminate a gene, correct it to modify its functioning, or administer genetic activities.

Crispr-Cas9 was discovered in 2012. With the help of CRISPR, scientists can make defined changes to DNA and can transform the treatment of genetic diseases. In 2019, CRISPR went into trial for editing blood cells that were taken out from the body and then injected back successfully. In 2020, Crispr will be injected into the bodies of patients to handle the live edit. This will open up the way for gene editing in a wide variety of human cells.

American biotechnology company, Intellia Therapeutics is seeking approvals for its trial to use CRISPR to attempt to cure amyloidosis, a rare and potentially life- threatening liver condition. These trials are to be conducted in the second half of 2020. Crispr Therapeutics, the pioneer in the use of gene-editing in humans, raised over $270 million in a recent follow-on offering. In 2019, it successfully treated two patients with blood disorders.

Stem-cell research

It is a fast-moving field, all set to change the face of healthcare in this decade. Scientists can now create almost any living tissue in their labs. They are able to transform adult cells to an embryo like state and then drive the development of embryo cells into specialised cells. This process could organise the cells into organoids i.e. the simplified replicas of human organs.

Organoids had a limited use, primarily in lab studies of diseases and probable treatments but we may encounter the efforts for transplanting them into patients to replace the failed organs such as kidney, liver and heart. As organoids develop from patients’ own cells, they will be more acceptable by the body than xenotransplant technology, which is an alternative where organs are grown in pigs and then genetically edited to avoid rejection by the human immune system.

With reference to above scientific breakthroughs, let us have a look at few ASX-listed Australian stocks involved in the similar space.

Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH): Leading health care company, Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) has developed a market leading and wide ranging implantable hearing devices programmed with Artificial Intelligence, to deliver best possible hearing solutions to its customers.

The company is poised well to expect a strong growth in cochlear implant units in developed markets including expanding its footprints in China and the US with investments in IT platforms to strengthen connected health and its capabilities in digital and cyber security.

COH’s shares traded at $237.850, down 1.188% on 20 January 2020.

Volpara Health Technologies Limited (ASX:VHT): Volpara Health Technologies Limited is a medical technology SaaS company with its prime focus on developing AI algorithms for helping clinical decision-making and early diagnosis of breast cancer by offering breast imaging analytics and analysis products.

VHT’s shares traded at $1.805, down 3.217% on 20 January 2020.

ResApp Health Limited (ASX: RAP): A prime healthcare company with headquarters in Brisbane, Australia, ResApp Health develops clinically validated and regulatory-approved, smartphone applications based digital diagnostic tools for diagnosis and management of acute respiratory diseases.

Its productResApp” is a programmed approach, in which the diagnosis is wholly based on the analysis of a patient’s audible cough sound, eliminating the need for human interpretation or additional software.

RAP’s shares traded at $0.290, up 7.407% on 20 January 2020.

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL): Leading Australian biotech company, CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) develops, manufactures and commercialises novel protein-based drugs, cell-culture media and human plasma fractions, with two key businesses - CSL Behring and Seqirus.

CSL expanded its footprints into gene therapy in FY2018 post acquisition of Calimmune Inc, in 2017 that offered CSL a brand- new technology platform involving stem cells research and manufacturing process targeting Sickle Cell Disease (CSL200), with high unmet need and immune deficiencies including Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS).

CSL’s shares traded at $303.450, up 1.116% on 20 January 2020.

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