Is the phrase "game-changing" used too often? Probably so. The reality is that many things described as game-changing really aren't. But there are exceptions.

Three Motley Fool contributors were asked to select stocks to buy in March that truly are game changers. Here's why they picked Beam Therapeutics (BEAM -4.69%), CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP -0.76%), and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX 0.43%)

Scientists looking at DNA on monitors.

Image source: Getty Images.

A base-editing hit that could be a home run

Keith Speights (Beam Therapeutics): Base editing is an approach to editing genes invented in 2016 by a team led by David Liu. Instead of cutting DNA, the method chemically modifies base pairs. While other gene-editing techniques are like scissors, base editing is akin to a pencil with an eraser.

Beam Therapeutics, co-founded by Liu and two other scientists in 2017, is the leader in developing base-editing therapies. The company already has one program, BEAM-101, in early-stage clinical testing that targets sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. It expects to dose the first patient in another clinical study evaluating BEAM-201 in treating T-cell acute leukemia in mid-2023.

These two candidates are just the tip of the iceberg for Beam, though. The company hopes to advance BEAM-301 and BEAM-302, both of which target rare genetic diseases, into clinical testing as early as next year. It also has several other preclinical programs.

Beam's shares have plunged close to 70% since the second half of 2021. However, ARK Invest founder Cathie Wood remains optimistic about the gene-editing stock. Wall Street analysts are upbeat as well: The consensus price target for Beam reflects an upside potential of over 80%.

Base editing is still only in its early innings. But Beam Therapeutics could easily be a home run for investors if its pipeline programs are successful in clinical studies.

Another gene-editing stock that could take off soon

David Jagielski (CRISPR Therapeutics): Gene-editing technology has the potential to be a real game changer in healthcare. CRISPR Therapeutics is poised to play a key part in the revolution.

The company has an exciting gene-editing treatment in the works called exa-cel, which is a functional cure for people with rare blood diseases beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease. This therapy could truly be a game changer for the people living with those diseases. It could also be a game changer for CRISPR Therapeutics' business, as it would give the company a product that could bring in billions in revenue.

CRISPR Therapeutics won't rake in all of the money from exa-cel if it's approved. The company will receive 40% of any profits, with its development partner, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, pocketing the rest. But exa-cel would really put CRISPR Therapeutics on the map. The product could give the company a much-needed source of consistent revenue and improve its bottom line, which over the past four quarters has incurred losses totaling $650 million.

In February, CRISPR Therapeutics said its rolling submission for a Biologics License Application for exa-cel should be complete soon -- by the end of the first quarter of this year. If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives the treatment the green light, this could be a red-hot stock to buy. And by having an approved gene-editing therapy in its portfolio, CRISPR Therapeutics could also become an attractive acquisition target given its relatively modest $3.8 billion valuation.

CRISPR Therapeutics stock is down more than 40% from its 52-week high. I think buying it now could be a good move as it could soar in the next bull market.

A proven innovator with plenty of opportunities ahead 

Prosper Junior Bakiny (Vertex Pharmaceuticals): Biotech giant Vertex Pharmaceuticals delivered market-crushing returns over the past 10 years after it developed a lineup of medicines that treat the underlying causes of cystic fibrosis (CF). The company's work in this area has literally been game-changing: Vertex's products are the only ones that address the underlying causes of this rare disease. 

That's how the biotech has thrived -- few (if any) competitive advantages trump holding a monopoly in a market. Vertex should continue to make headway within the existing CF patient population, with more than 20,000 (out of 88,000 in relevant markets) still eligible for its therapies. But the biotech is now turning elsewhere for growth. 

Vertex is seeking approval for exa-cel in the U.S. and Europe with its partner CRISPR Therapeutics. The company expects this product to be its next launch.

But Vertex won't stop there. The big biotech is developing other products, some of which could be groundbreaking. For instance, it is working on a potential medicine for type 1 diabetes, VX-880, that could allow patients to produce their own insulin. Vertex is also targeting everyday issues like acute and neuropathic pain where there is a need for more treatment options without serious potential side effects.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals' innovative potential is the key reason its shares could continue to beat the market for a long time. Investors should consider buying shares of this biotech in March.