Immunotherapy is changing the way the medical community thinks about treating cancer. Brad Loncar, CEO of Loncar Investments, said Wall Street needs to follow suit and change the way it invests in cancer drug companies.
"This is a high growth area within biotech," said Loncar. "Investors should not think of biotech as one thing, it is made up of many different things."
Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person's immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done by stimulating the patient's immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells, or giving his or her immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins.
The alternative to immunotherapy is chemotherapy, which Loncar calls "toxic to the whole body." Immunotherapy, on the other hand, is natural and might produce more powerful and longer lasting responses, he said.
Loncar, who is donating a portion of his profits to the Cancer Research Institute, launched the Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF (CNCR) in October because, in his opinion, the other biotech indices are "too broad." Holdings in the fund include large companies like Bristol-Myers (BMY) and Merck (MRK) .
"They are in their launches right now so it's very early days," said Loncar. "But it's been very successful, as evidence by last week's news about President Carter. He has melanoma and had a good response to it." Former president Jimmy Carter announced earlier this month that he is free of cancer. He had been receiving regular immunotherapy treatments and said he will continue to do so.
Regarding the cost of these drugs, Loncar said they should be priced according to the value that they bring patients and society.
"These are the companies trying to change cancer care for the better," said Loncar. "And so if they are able to do that, that's going to deliver a lot of value to patients and the system, not just in this country but all over the world. If they are able to do that then the economics will work out."