Most investors like the idea of getting in early on an up-and-coming stock. But doing so isn't always easy. Sometimes what seems to be a rising star can crash and burn.

We asked three Motley Fool contributors to pick monster stocks in the making to buy right now. Here's why they chose CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP 1.01%), Ginkgo Bioworks (DNA 4.77%), and Novocure (NVCR 0.08%).

Unlocking innovative therapies 

Prosper Junior Bakiny (CRISPR Therapeutics): Despite tremendous medical progress in the past few decades, there is still plenty of work to do. Drugmakers are in a race to discover breakthrough treatments for difficult-to-treat illnesses. Gene-editing leader CRISPR Therapeutics is one of them. This mid-cap biotech appears to be really close to earning its first major regulatory win.

CRISPR Therapeutics is developing exa-cel as a potential therapy for sickle cell disease (SCD) and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia (TDT), two rare blood disorders. The biotech is working on these projects with an industry veteran, Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX 0.03%).

What makes exa-cel so promising? SCD and TDT aren't illnesses that can typically be cured. Treatment options for both, such as regular blood transfusions, are expensive and rife with potential side effects. Enter exa-cel: a potential one-time curative treatment for TDT and SCD.

The medicine has scored solid results in clinical trials. For instance, it has so far been able to eliminate vaso-occlusive crises -- painful side effects of SCD -- in all 31 patients treated in a late-stage study.

Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics expect regulatory submissions in Europe and potentially in the U.S. by the end of 2022. Commercialization efforts could start late next year if all goes according to plan. CRISPR Therapeutics will have to share exa-cel's profits with Vertex, but it gets much of the credit for being the company that initially developed the therapy. 

Creating and marketing novel treatments (or cures) for rare illnesses is challenging and expensive. CRISPR Therapeutics could soon be able to boast that it has done that. And it is showing no signs of slowing down with several other programs coming through the pipeline.

The gene-editing stock is lagging the market this year. However, long-term investors should seriously consider CRISPR Therapeutics as it could join the ranks of the biotech giants within a decade. 

A promising business that requires some patience

David Jagielski (Ginkgo Bioworks): One stock with boatloads of potential in the future is Ginkgo Bioworks. It's a biotech company that helps businesses program cells to create efficiencies in their day-to-day operations, and it allows them to develop new products.

Ginkgo has some exciting opportunities on its horizon. It has partnered with several notable businesses, including animal health company Elanco, drugmakers Bayer and Novo Nordisk, and cannabis producer Cronos Group. These collaborations are testaments to the growth potential and diverse revenue streams that Ginkgo can tap into.

There are other catalysts that could drive its business even further in the near term. In July, Ginkgo announced plans to acquire biotech company Zymergen in an all-stock deal that will allow it to diversify its business and take advantage of Zymergen's machine learning capabilities and automation software. The company has also deepened its relationship with Bayer as it plans to acquire the company's West Sacramento Biologics Research & Development site. The deal will result in a three-year partnership in which Ginkgo will provide research services (focused on agricultural biologicals) to Bayer.

There's mammoth potential for Ginkgo to get a whole lot bigger in the future. It's already achieving significant growth. The deals and partnerships it is securing pave the way for even more revenue in the years ahead. With cash of $1.4 billion on its books (and operating cash burn being just $119 million over the past six months), the company is an excellent position to take advantage of opportunities as they come up.

Ginkgo sees potential applications for its services in healthcare, food and agriculture, consumer, materials, and energy. Achieving that potential will take time -- potentially several years as the business is still unprofitable and burning through cash. But Ginkgo looks to be on a promising track. It could be a monster growth stock in the future.

Building momentum

Keith Speights (Novocure): Quite a few companies are leading the way in disrupting how cancer is treated. I think Novocure ranks as one of the best of the bunch. The company's Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) therapy, marketed under the Optune brand name, is already a highly effective way to treat glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive type of brain cancer, as well as mesothelioma.

Novocure still has opportunities for growth in these indications, especially in combination therapies targeting GBM. For example, it's partnering with Merck to evaluate TTFields in combination with blockbuster immunotherapy Keytruda in treating newly diagnosed GBM. 

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Novocure is currently conducting four late-stage clinical studies of TTFields in treating other types of cancer. If these trials are successful, the company's addressable patient population could explode by a factor of 14 times.

The first of these studies to wrap up targets non-small cell lung cancer. Novocure originally expected to announce the results later this year. However, Executive Chairman Bill Doyle said in the second-quarter conference call that the company is moving the announcement to early 2023 rather than release data in the final week of the year. This minor delay doesn't diminish the excitement around the clinical study one bit.

Novocure plans to report results from its phase 3 studies targeting recurrent ovarian cancer and brain metastases later next year. Data from a late-stage study of pancreatic cancer should be on the way in 2024.

Unlike many biotech stocks, Novocure has delivered positive gains so far this year. I think the momentum will likely build going into 2023 and beyond.