MRI

MRI

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On July 3, 1977, a historic event took place: The first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam on a live human patient was performed. It was a technology that was a long time in the making, with the first scans taking place as early as the 1930s.

These days, this minimally invasive diagnostic tool is more in demand than ever. This is especially true considering the rise in chronic diseases, the growth of the geriatric population, and an increasing number of hospital and diagnostic centers.

 

MRIs give doctors more information for diagnosis than ever before and notably, make early cancer diagnosis more possible and commonplace. 

Here’s what investors should know about the MRI market. 

What Is MRI Technology? 

An MRI is a “non-invasive imaging technology that produces three dimensional detailed anatomical images.” The images that it produces allow doctors to identify tumors, fractures, and other anatomical anomalies. 

MRIs can do a multitude of things. When they image the head and neck, they can detect brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, developmental anomalies, multiple sclerosis, stroke, dementia, infection, and more.

When they image arteries and veins, they can detect aneurysms, blockages of the blood vessels, carotid artery disease, and arteriovenous malformations. 

When they image the spine, they can detect herniated discs, pinched nerves, spinal tumors, spinal cord compression, and fractures.

MRIs generate these images by using large magnets and radiofrequency concurrently. The magnets function to cause protons in the body to align with the magnetic field. Then, the radiofrequency current is pulsed, stimulating the proteins. When the radiofrequency is turned off, the protons realign with the magnetic field. A computer then captures the movement of the proteins, converting the signals created when the protons realign to the magnetic field into an image. These internal images tell doctors a lot. 

To have an MRI done, patients lay on a table that slides into a long tube. The tube holds a very large, strong magnet. Magnets used in MRIs are approximately 3,000 times stronger than the magnets that stick to a refrigerator and can be turned on and off. Then, the radio frequencies are pulsed. Often, contrast dyes are given to the patient in advance of an MRI. These are absorbed by the body and result in a quicker response from the tissue to the magnetic and radio waves, resulting in clearer pictures.

MRIs tend to be more expensive than X-ray imaging or CT scanning, but they offer lots of benefits. For example, MRIs are generally preferred for brain imaging because it does not employ x-rays or other radiation. 

Why Invest in MRI Technology?

The global market for MRI systems is expected to grow from $6.2 billion in 2020 to $7.8 billion by 2025. This is just a slice of the Medical Imaging Market as a whole, which is expected to reach $82.5 billion by 2027, according to Data Bridge Market Research.

MRI technology is advancing in more ways than one and making better medical imaging more possible than ever. 

First, improved software is generating more insights than before. Some software is enabling faster contrast scans, for example. Other software is allowing patients with implanted devices to have scans done. Notably, advancing software is also allowing for previously challenging scans of the heart and the air-filled lungs to be taken. 

In addition to advancing software, MRIs are also launching with stronger magnets than ever before. These machines are producing more detailed images. Most MRI machines are 1.5 tesla (T) machines, with some as strong as 3.0T. In November 2020, the FDA approved 7.0T machine. GE Healthcare MR, who received the approval, anticipates that the new scanner will be “a critical tool in research for neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and mild traumatic brain injury,” according to a press release. 

As technology improves, MRIs are becoming more instrumental in healthcare diagnosis.  Not only are MRIs continuing to gain traction for diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders, including brain injuries, but MRIs are also continuing to improve early cancer diagnosis. For example, a Phase III randomized clinical trial demonstrated that an MRI paired with targeted biopsies (MRI-TBx) has the potential to make prostate cancer diagnosis both more accurate and less invasive.

MRIs can even be used as early intervention tools, in some instances. For example, MRIs have been used to assess brain development and literacy skills in preschoolers by measuring the gray matter surface on the brain. 

MRI technology is also finding applications beyond clinical settings. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy recently selected GE Research Lab to  “build and test a prototype of a high-efficiency ultra-light low temperature superconducting (LTS) generator, leveraging innovations from GE’s MRI business.” As it turns out, years of figuring out how to increase the magnetic field to produce better medical images is now helping researchers to figure out how to make more efficient generators. 

MRI technology has changed diagnostics, and it isn’t done yet. Investors should take note of the ongoing innovations in MRI technology and their potential to continue to improve early diagnostics and apply to other critical industries.

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This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the Jan 28, 2021 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.


Medical Devices

When we think “medical device,” we might automatically think of the beeping equipment in a hospital room. But, in today’s world, medical devices are much more— perhaps even closer to science fiction than traditional science.

The medical device market is anticipated to reach $432.6 billion by 2025, according to a recent report published by Lucintel.

In part, this growth is driven by the increasing sophistication of technology. Medical devices are becoming smaller and smarter than ever, performing increasingly complex and constantly improving functions.

[What else is happening in healthcare? Here’s Magnifi’s take.]

Moreover, escalating healthcare costs, a rise in chronic diseases, and a growing aging population are compelling health care providers to seek out new, more efficient care models. From 3D printing human tissues to monitoring patients according to their specific clinical needs after they leave the hospital, innovative medical devices are meeting that need. 

New medical devices are offering a myriad of useful answers to complex health challenges, changing the reality of care in new and exciting ways. 

What Are Medical Devices?

According to the World Health Organization, ‘medical device’ means any instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, appliance, implant, reagent for in vitro use, software, material or other similar or related article, intended by the manufacturer to be used, alone or in combination, for human beings, for one or more of the specific medical purpose(s) of:

  • diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease,
  • diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, alleviation of or compensation for an injury,
  • investigation, replacement, modification, or support of the anatomy or of a physiological process,
  • supporting or sustaining life,
  • control of conception,
  • disinfection of medical devices
  • providing information by means of in vitro examination of specimens derived from the human body;

and does not achieve its primary intended action by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means, in or on the human body, but which may be assisted in its intended function by such means.

So, health monitors, check. Brain sensors, check. 3D printed prosthetics (and ears!), check again. 

Why Invest in Medical Devices?

The landscape of medical devices is growing rapidly, with technology making the impossible possible. 

Wearables

The rise in wearables isn’t limited to FitBits. And when it comes to medical devices, wearables do much more than measure your steps. For one, wearables can offer real-time patient data to health care providers. And, when they connect with Artificial Intelligence-based programs, they not only collect information, but also analyze it against big data. 

Up-to-minute information about vitals limits the need for in-person appointments and can lead to better patient outcomes. For example, Current Health’s Remote Patient Monitoring Platform is AI powered and customizable according to a patient’s risk level. 

Some emerging wearables can also perform health interventions. In early 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),approved the first wearable, portable peritoneal dialysis. Developed by Singapore-based AWAK Technologies, the device has the potential to change the lives of dialysis patients around the world. 

Perhaps even more exciting, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a wrist-worn prototype that screens the wearer’s blood over the course of a few hours, analyzing it for circulating tumor cells (CTCs).

Wearables can be used for everything from pre-surgical planning to gene sequencing and medical imaging, making their health and investment opportunities plentiful. 

Brain Sensors 

These days, brain sensors come in many shapes and sizes. Some are placed in the brain itself, measuring temperature and pressure before dissolving. This information can be crucial for patients with traumatic brain injuries, for example. Their dissolvable nature not only negates the need for surgery to remove them, but also limits the risk of infection and complications associated with long-term implants. 

Alternatively, the company Advanced Brain Monitoring offers products designed to track function as it relates to chronic diseases and early stage neurodegeneration.  

Still others are more consumer oriented, like the company Muse, which sells headsets that act as a brain fitness tool, measuring and tracking brain activity.

Artificial Organs 

Certainly many things — like the heart — can’t be replicated. Right? Actually, that’s not entirely true anymore.

iSynCardia Systems recently received FDA approval for its most recent iteration of a total artificial heart, the 50cc temporary Total Artificial Heart System (50cc TAH-t).The company’s artificial heart, first approved in 2004, is meant to be a bridge until a biological donor becomes available. Artificial organs, whether printed or made otherwise, offer a lot of promise, providing millions waiting on donor organs an alternative. 

3D Printing 

According to the FDA, “3D printing is a process that creates a three-dimensional object by building successive layers of raw material.” 

Not only does 3D printing allow for the creation of more patient-specific devices, it allows for more specific variation in medical tools. Rather than buying large quantities of a tool, providers can print them on demand. Similarly, customized prosthetics and orthopedic implants are more possible than ever, improving the likelihood of patient success.

Bioprinting

Now, for the real science fiction stuff. 

Bioprinting uses carefully designed bio inks made of biomaterials and cells to 3D print living obstacles, such as tissue or organ. Pioneered a decade ago, bioprinting in its early days was developed to improve wound reconstruction related to burns, one of the most common types of traumas worldwide. Since then, scientists have gone as far as to develop a prototype of a handheld bioprinter designed specifically to help skin regenerate in areas affected by large wounds.  

Beyond skin, scientists have succeeded in bioprinting an artificial pancreas, a synthetic ear, a meniscus made in space, and even bone tissue. Researchers are even working on bio-printed ovaries for women suffering from infertility. 

How to Invest in Medical Devices

As an emerging industry, particularly one in the feast or famine sector of biotech, investing in medical devices directly can be risky. Although medical devices on the whole have been around for decades, the innovative new solutions at the forefront of the industry remain largely untested. This can make investing in individual medical device companies a risky proposition.

However, a search on Magnifi indicates that there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds available to give investors broad exposure to this industry without concentrating their bets on any one company. 

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the  June 11, 2020  (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.

Healthcare

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Make no mistake, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for millions of people around the world. Suddenly, maintaining our health is the most important thing on our minds, overtaking all of the usual daily tasks like work, school and entertainment.

Economies have shut down, governments have scrambled to adapt and we’re still not yet sure what the world will look like on the other side of this.

But one area that’s seeing direct impacts is the healthcare industry. Not only are millions turning to their healthcare providers for help addressing COVID-19, but they’re also doing so in new ways as a result of the pandemic. Stay-at-home orders and concerns over exposure at hospitals have led to an explosion in the use of telehealth and digital health services.

This isn’t all new, of course. It’s been a long time since the stereotype of the lone country doctor doing house calls has been even close to true, and the industry has been evolving and growing ever since its earliest stages prior to the Civil War. In those days, medical care was a luxury with hospitals located in a few major cities to serve patients but little else available. The first hospital in the U.S., the Royal Hospital in New Orleans, opened in 1722 as a military facility but was later switched over for civilian use. By that point it was too expensive for the majority of the residents in the area to visit, so a second, charity-based hospital was built nearby, starting the tradition of hospitals serving all as a type of public service.

Medical innovation accelerated dramatically in the 20th century, with the advent of new technologies like X-ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging improving doctor’s diagnostic capabilities, the expansion of vaccines helping to protect public health from infectious diseases, to new surgical anesthetics, antibiotics, heart surgeries, radiologic imaging and more.

As ABC News explained in 2007: “Whether it’s the technology that allows us to peer deep into the body or medicines that extend the lives of those with chronic diseases, it’s easy to see how advances in health and medicine have touched the lives of nearly every person on the planet. Yet considering the ubiquitous nature of these developments, it is easy to see how many people take for granted the technologies and practices that, at one point or another, almost certainly saved their own lives or the lives of people they’ve loved.”

The history of healthcare is a history of innovation.

That’s one of the reasons that it has become such a popular segment for investors looking to generate gains while also supporting work that’s protecting the health of millions of people. But, for those interested in the investment potential of this booming market, there are a few important points to understand.

What Is Included in ‘Healthcare’?

According to Webster’s dictionary, “healthcare” includes any “efforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being especially by trained and licensed professionals.” This includes everything related to maintaining or improving a person’s health, including the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, recovery or cure of diseases, injuries and any other physical problems that they might be experiencing.

And the list of other professionals involved in delivering healthcare is equally long, including doctors, nurses, surgeons, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, psychologists, therapists, athletic trainers and more. Anyone providing care to people – including on the scale of public health – is involved in healthcare.

Here in the U.S., the term “healthcare” also typically applies to the entire healthcare delivery system, ranging from individual doctor’s offices all the way up to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. A health system is a network of related facilities – usually three to 10 hospitals – that work together to deliver health services to patients in their geographic area. The National Bureau of Economic Research defines health systems based on three types of arrangements: (1) organizations with common ownership, (2) those that are contractually integrated, and (3) those that are part of informal care systems, such as common referral arrangements. “Systems include organizations combined horizontally (e.g., a hospital system) or vertically (e.g., a multihospital system also owning physician practices and post-acute care facilities).”

These systems are typically major employers in their communities and are effectively one-stop-shops for all of their patient’s healthcare needs.

Of course, delivery is just part of the healthcare equation. It also has to be paid for, and that’s where the health insurance side of things comes into the picture. Health insurance today is a tangled web of private plans, employer-provided plans, government-backed programs like Medicare and Medicaid and more. Add to this the Affordable Care Act, introduced in 2010, intended to overcome some of the limitations of the private, for-profit health insurance industry and expand affordable coverage to all Americans.

Why Invest in Healthcare?

As an industry, healthcare is massive.

Worldwide, the industry was worth $8.45 trillion as of 2018 and accounts for about 10% of most GDPs. This is on track to exceed $10 trillion by 2022.

In the U.S., it’s even bigger. As of 2019, healthcare accounted for nearly 18% of U.S. GDP and is the country’s largest employment sector, employing 1 out of every 8 Americans. We also spend the most on our health individually, at more than $10,000 annually per capita.

It’s also an extremely lucrative segment of the economy. Among the 784,000-plus companies in U.S. healthcare, more than $1 trillion in annual revenue comes from patient services, with $74 billion coming from rehab services, $50 billion from dental services and more than $44 billion from government grants and contributions. Healthcare deals with a lot of big numbers.

But there are hopes that new technologies can help tame this system and unlock new efficiencies. According to some estimates, the internet of things (IoT) can lower the costs of operational and clinical inefficiencies by $100 billion per year, and 64% of physicians believe it can help reduce the burden on nurses and doctors.

Beyond IoT, healthcare is finding new applications for Artificial Intelligence in managing patient care, blockchain in handling patient health records, chatbots for customer service and virtual reality for physician training. That’s to say nothing of the potential for marketing automation, supply chain logistics and other proven technologies that are finally finding applications in the healthcare space.

How to Invest in Healthcare

Naturally, healthcare is a large and sprawling industry. For investors, it can be challenging to choose where to invest in a segment that includes everything from drug development, to medical devices, to home health services and much more.

Investing in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to the entire healthcare world is a good way to overcome this limitation, and a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of such funds for investors to choose from.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the June 3, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change.  This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.

Cancer Treatment

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s awful for the hundreds of thousands of patients and their families impacted by it. 

But, there is hope. 

A new 2020 American Cancer Society report shows the largest single-year drop, 2.2%, in the rate of people dying from cancer ever recorded in 2017, the most recent year tracked.  

Even more promising, the report indicates that the rate of people dying from cancer has dropped every year for 26 straight years. 

How did we get here? More effective early detection, treatment advances, and lifestyle changes, for starters. But there is a lot more innovation that’s happening in modern cancer care that’s improving the odds for cancer patients everywhere. These new technologies include: 

[The link between food and health is strong than ever. Learn more about investing in Organic Agriculture.]

Artificial Intelligence for Cancer Care

The modern healthcare system is today based on electronic health data. Now, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) technology, we are finally able to more efficiently analyze and categorize that data, allowing researchers to identify disease and treatment trends that are leading to a better understanding of the elements that affect cancer growth or decline. Moreover, researchers and clinicians alike are now able to more quickly access and compare information about patients with similar cancers.  

The startup company, Paige (Pathology AI Guidance Engine), for example, applies AI-based methods to better map the pathology of cancer. Paige raised $45 million in funding in late 2019. 

The Cancer Genomics Cloud (CGC), which houses a number of cancer data sets, including the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), makes a huge amount of data available to researchers quickly and securely.

These technological efforts are leading both to increasingly personalized cancer care and new treatment options in the fight for a cure. 

Genomics Testing for Better Cancer Treatment

Liquid biopsies investigate “any type of specimen other than tissue — including blood, urine, and cerebral spinal fluid — that can be interrogated regarding the functionality of a cancer tumor.” An important tool in early detection, liquid biopsies can detect cancer before it becomes visible or shows symptoms. And, in the case of blood or urine specimens, the biopsies are non-invasive.

Guardant Health, a provider of liquid biopsies, saw its stock grow 78% in 2019. And that’s just the beginning. The market for liquid biopsies is projected to reach $6.5 billion by 2026, but could grow to as much as a $100 billion market by some estimates. 

Immunotherapy and Cancer

Immunotherapy harnesses the power of the immune system to help patients fight a wide range of diseases, including cancer. In the spring of 2018, there were 753 cell-based therapies in development according to the Cancer Research Institute. 

And, some are working magic for patients. Keytruda, approved to treat a range of cancers, brought in approximately $11.1 billion in sales for the drug giant, Merck

Improving Patient Access 

Beyond housing mass data for researchers and clinicians, the internet is giving cancer patients themselves a place to connect with vetted expert information and with other patients. 

SurvivorNet is a community of cancer patients and survivors, as well as a forum for expert information. Its goal is to increase access to information about treatment options. SurvivorNet recently raised $10M in a Series B funding round. 

Why Invest in Cancer Treatment?

When it comes to cancer, traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are still commonly used and are generally effective. But, they are also aggressive and indiscriminate, and often come with debilitating side effects (although medical cannabis has been shown to help ease these symptoms). 

As medicine becomes more personal, so too are cancer treatments, with doctors and researchers moving towards increasingly patient-centric therapies.

Why now? Electronic health records, genetic testing, big data analytics, and supercomputing are the tools of precision care, and now, doctors and scientists have them. The results are both better targeted therapies available to patients sooner after diagnosis and cancer treatment options that are both in development and widely available multiplying fast. 

This leaves investors with lots of options. Not only are there new therapies and drugs on the market, there are new testing technologies, AI companies, and online platforms that have the potential to be the next big thing. 

How to Invest in the Future of Cancer Care

Cancer is something that we all want to beat. And, these days, our chances of actually accomplishing that goal are better than ever.

As new technologies become commercialized, millions will be diagnosed earlier and successfully connected with their cures. It won’t happen overnight, though. It will happen one breakthrough at a time.

Picking those winners ahead of time is difficult, however, and typically calls for advanced medical research knowledge and understanding that most investors simply don’t have. But, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from cancer care innovation as a whole via mutual funds and ETFs.

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Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Open a Magnifi investment account today.

The information and data are as of the February 6, 2020 (publish date) unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This blog is sponsored by Magnifi.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer or custodial services.