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One new health care fund was just born and another is on the way as fund companies scramble to launch a fund in the hot sector.

Last week, the no-load

J.P. Morgan Global Healthcare

fund opened up. The team-managed fund will have plenty of leeway to invest in virtually any type of U.S. or foreign health care shop, covering companies involved in the "manufacture or sale of products or services used for, or in, connection with health care," according to the fund's prospectus.

Excelsior Funds

, the mutual fund arm of

Charles Schwab

subsidiary and high-net-worth money manager

U.S. Trust

, is on a health kick, too. Last week they filed preliminary paperwork for a health care fund of their own. The no-load

Excelsior Biotechnology

fund, as you might imagine, will focus on stocks of biotechnology firms, which are high tech labs that develop and make new drugs and/or medical devices. The fund could launch by the end of the year if regulators approve its paperwork on time.

Health care funds are far and away this year's top-performing category. On average, they're up 52.6%, compared with 3.5% for the average U.S. stock fund, according to


. Biotech stocks have driven much of those gains. The

American Stock Exchange Biotechnology Index

is up almost 71% so far this year, according to


. Those returns have drawn a steady flow of money to the category and triggered a rush to bring new health care funds to the market. About half of the some 40 health care or biotech funds out there have launched this year.

Andrew Cormie, Shawn Lytle, and Bertrand Biragnet lead the J.P. Morgan fund's management team. The trio joined J.P. Morgan in 1984, 1992, and 1996, respectively. The Excelsior fund will be managed by Maria Brisbane and John Lafferty. They've worked at U.S. Trust since 1994 and 1998, respectively.

The new funds won't be too expensive. Neither will levy a load or sales charge. Annual expenses are expected to be 1.5% for the J.P. Morgan fund and 1.25% for the Excelsior fund. The average health care fund's expense ratio is 1.72%, according to