On a previous episode of Industry Focus: Consumer Goods, the crew discussed the growing popularity of customized products, from Nike iD sneakers to handmade goods at Etsy.
But this supertrend is not just limited to the consumer and retail world. In this special crossover segment, Motley Fool analyst Kristine Harjes sheds light on developments in healthcare that mirror this trend with drugs that can be personalized for each patient based on their genetic make-up. This has allowed companies like Illumina to help the industry develop more effective treatments.
A full transcript follows the video.
This podcast was recorded on Nov. 15, 2016.
Vincent Shen: One of the first things was increased personalization. On the healthcare and drug side, you guys take that to another level, in my opinion. We had a previous show where I spoke to Asit about Nike's NIKEiD, where you can take a base shoe, design it with the colors you want, essentially put your own decals on the heels. With Starbucks, you can really make your drink exactly the way you want. But in terms of the healthcare world, how are they viewing personalization, and how has that changed their industry?
Kristine Harjes: This is a huge trend, both in the consumer goods sector and healthcare as well. People are pushing for more and more individualized treatments and more effective drugs. One of the ways in which you can do that is make them tailored to your body's chemical composition. You get these companies like Illumina that are profiling people's genes, and they can tell every little nuance of how your genetic makeup works. With that, you can see if somebody is predisposed to a certain type of disease, and maybe there are preventive steps that they can take. On the Healthcare show, we've previously covered Illumina, which is your go-to stock if you want to have exposure to this gene profiling market.
But there are also so many drug makers that can play in here. For example, we have talked about Roche on the Healthcare show. They have a drug called Kadcyla. This is a drug that treats HER2-positive breast cancer. What that means is, your cells have been shown to overexpress the HER2 gene, which is about one-quarter of all breast cancers. How this drug works is, it's a combination drug. It has chemotherapy and Herceptin in there. That second one, Herceptin, attaches to the HER2 protein on the cell, and it prevents it from receiving growth signals. Meanwhile, this drug also carries a chemotherapy in it, but it delivers it in this very targeted way, because Herceptin knows to go after these HER2-positive cells and then drop the chemotherapy. So it's not as toxic to healthy cells. This is only approved to a small segment of patients with breast cancer. That, of course, is something you see across personalized medicine -- it's not ubiquitous. You can't just give it to every single patient anymore. But that's a good thing, it means that it's even more effective.
Shen: So, with some of the therapies and drugs that you mentioned, especially in the healthcare space, are life-saving, can help heal and treat a lot of people, very important. But, on the consumer side, maybe not quite as impactful. But, something that I noticed that's very similar to that is, if you think about a company like Under Armour, they have taken their footwear, for example, and given it a focus of trying to innovate and improve the performance that it can give each person. So, it might not currently be at the level where they can personalize every single person. We're talking about millions of pairs of shoes. But, the potential is there in that market. If you go to a specialty running store, for example, they will put you on a treadmill, have a camera to look at exactly what your step is like and try to figure out the right shoe for you.
Harjes: I think it plays into, we're all a little bit narcissistic. People are starting to expect, "Hey, I am an individual snowflake and I want the shoe that is best for me."
Shen: Exactly. So, they're experimenting right now with things like 3D printing, potentially, to open up that possibility on a more mass scale.