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Latest cancer research...Your pension fund?

by Sable International | Jan 05, 2012
  • It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to invest in Bio-technology firms to fund your retirement. Instead, the goal here is to make you aware of some of the most important trends taking place in the bio-tech industry at the moment. These developments are hugely exciting and they are potentially transformative for society as we know it. But like many innovations they will have both positive and unintended negative consequences.
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    It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to invest in Bio-technology firms to fund your retirement. Instead, the goal here is to make you aware of some of the most important trends taking place in the bio-tech industry at the moment. These developments are hugely exciting and they are potentially transformative for society as we know it. But like many innovations they will have both positive and unintended negative consequences.

    As advisers we read a lot and quite widely at times. One of the best technology commentators out there is Pat Cox. He’s recently posted some very interesting facts on the latest developments in the biotech space. The most interesting of these focus on cancer treatment. Cancer treatment costs the US alone around $200 billion a year. So in developed nations this is one of the biggest problems faced by debt burdened governments who (quite rightly) see the demographic cards stacked against them. Cancer treatment success rates skyrocket when the disease is diagnosed early. If diagnosed late the treatment is hugely expensive and adds relatively little additional quality of life to the patient. In pure economic terms it’s a low return business which we fund because our humanity requires us to. However if diagnosed early cancer treatment success rates are quite high and the eventual cost falls considerably.

    Rafts of small bio-tech firms in the US are making considerable headway toward the goal of developing accurate, inexpensive and early diagnosis. The problem is that there has never been a way to test for all cancers. Each and every cancer (and there’s a long list of them) requires a separate diagnostic test. However now one of these firms has used gene mapping to create a very simple and inexpensive blood test to find genetic blood markers. Genetic code hacking has allowed this company to map over 40,000 gene sequences and it’s this vast database of research that allowed them to discover the fact that each cancer cell activates certain genes to secrete certain proteins. These proteins are relatively easy to test for. The result could be a simple device that costs £30 or £40 which is able to test for the presence of any type of cancer.

    So what does this mean? It means that anyone under the age of 45 is likely to see these and other medical discoveries offering them a much longer lifespan. It means the current accepted retirement age of 65 (which was conceived in the 30’s) is massively outdated. It means that you will more than likely live past 100. And as such you are going to need to be able to fund a far longer period of retirement. That problem has nothing to do with the future. That needs to be dealt with today. 

    For any questions on your financial planning please contact the author Mike Abbott at wealth@sableinternational.com.

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