Medical marijuana is one of the biggest healthcare stories out there right now.
We know that cannabis is a godsend for cancer patients, who use it to control their nausea and increase their appetite following chemotherapy.
Researchers are proving every day that cannabis-based drugs are effective against extreme pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments.
All that means medical marijuana is also one of the best investment opportunities out there.
That’s why I’ve recommended GW Pharmaceuticals PLC (Nasdaq ADR: GWPH) to you again and again.
But when it comes to medical marijuana, there’s a big problem.
Marijuana is probably the least studied cash crop in the world.
Researchers working to discover and refine the medicinal properties of cannabis have been greatly hampered by the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) classification of the plant as a Schedule 1 drug. That means the federal government deems marijuana as having no accepted medical use, like meth or heroin.
That stance has cut down on the sort of well-funded research that’s needed to usher in the next round of cannabis-based wonder drugs.
But that doesn’t mean no research is happening. After all, GW Pharma and other biotech firms have produced a first round of weed-based drugs.
In fact, there’s a small but growing cottage industry of tiny startups focused on the genetic testing of cannabis to help those biotechs
Some marijuana analytics startups, like Steep Hill, are developing their own gene-sequencing systems – and that’s something very exciting I plan to tell you more about soon.
But most, including Medicinal Genomics, are using state-of-the-art gene-sequencing equipment from the company I want to tell you about today.
This dynamic industry leader is a pioneer in the genetic testing equipment field. And now it’s equipment is crucial for medical marijuana pioneers.
If you got in when I first recommended this stock just a few months ago, you’ve already made nearly 19%.
But thanks to the medical marijuana sector’s interest and several more catalysts I’ll tell you about below, it’s got a lot further to run.
Take a look…
A Dream Come True
With a well-studied cash crop, like corn, researchers can easily manipulate the plant’s genetics to produce just about whatever they desire – better flavor, bigger kernels, disease resistance, etc. After all, the U.S. government and companies like Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) have spent billions studying corn and sequencing its genes.
But with marijuana, we’re nowhere near there yet.
The dream of medical marijuana researchers is an overarching database that they can use to simply type in what trait they’re looking for and it would spit out either the strain that exists or those that can be combined to provide that characteristic.
The profit motive to get there first is overwhelming for these researchers.
On the recreational side, they want the same thing. Those growing and selling recreational marijuana want to produce products that meet consumers’ preferences for variations in taste, smell, precision dosing, and desired effects.
And companies like Medicinal Genomics are using genetic-sequencing machines from Illumina Inc. (Nasdaq: ILMN) to make that dream a reality.
Illumina’s sequencing machines help cannabis analytics labs identify marijuana’s 800 million base pairs and 10 chromosomes. That information will help pot breeders discover more markers for specific traits like potency, aroma, and, most importantly, medicinal properties.
And as more jurisdictions bring legal weed online, including full legalization in Canada and Massachusetts this summer, the market’s desire for ever-refined and differentiated products will only grow.
That will keep Illumina’s product line in steep demand by those marijuana testing labs’ seeking to build out their knowledge of the plant’s genome.
But that’s just the beginning…
In a recent interview, Illumina Chief Financial Officer Sam Samad said the company’s top priority for its cash stockpile of more than $2 billion is innovation.
And that’s right where we want to be in this highly competitive space.
Illumina will soon launch iSeq, a $20,000 benchtop sequencing system with a projected market of 50,000 customers. That’s a potential $1 billion in sales.
The firm is also in the process of migrating customers from its older HiSeq systems to its new NovaSeq systems, which will, in part, reduce RNA sequencing costs and speed sequencing run times.
This ability to rapidly sequence genes is also helping biologists rapidly track new viruses before they can infect entire populations.
It’s helping biotech firms make more advanced drugs. And gene sequencing is now playing a growing role in forensic sciences.
Moreover, Illumina is making a big push into cancer research by creating a universal test system for clinical trials of targeted cancer therapies.
I think you get the picture.
And it’s being run by a top-of-the-line team, including David Cameron, the former U.K. prime minister, who’s taken on a role as consultant and chairman of the firm’s international board.
Dr. Phil Frebbo, a leading prostate cancer researcher and experienced executive who previously worked at Genomic Health (Nasdaq: GHDX), is moving into the role of chief medical officer on March 26.
And It’s Not Stopping Here
Since launching in 1998, Illumina has overcome major hurdles to create a thriving business.
After years of innovation, this genetic sequencing company’s machines can carry out genetic tests for just $1,000 – drastically cheaper than the $1 million it took to sequence the human genome in prior years.
Over the five-year period ending in 2016, Illumina’s sales doubled to $2.4 billion.
Since then, sales have kept rising. The firm’s 2017 fourth-quarter sales jumped 26% over the previous period.
I first recommended Illumina on Nov. 17, and you’ve made some hefty 19% gains since then.
That’s better than triple the 5.25% gains of the S&P 500 over that same stretch.
I think we’re looking at triple-digit gains in just a couple of years here.
— Michael A. Robinson
Source: Strategic Tech Investor