It’s a very small and very new ETF created by analyst Brad Loncar, who has targeted a basket of companies engaged specifically in immunotherapy.

Of course, immunotherapy is a highly specific area of biotechnology that involves using the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. It’s been around since 1908 when Russian biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov received the Nobel Prize for his work on phagocytosis – in plain English: the body’s active response to a foreign body like bacteria or… yes… cancer.

Classic cancer treatments have involved the identification of specific organs as part of the immune system like your spleen, kidneys, lymph nodes, and so on. But that could only go so far because what we’re really talking about is the relationship between various bodily systems and pathogens.

Thanks to new discoveries, ongoing research, and significantly more computing power, doctors now understand that many parts of the immune system don’t belong to any specific organ. Rather, they flow through or are part of our tissue.

That’s set the stage for this cutting-edge tech investment:

Specifically, treatments based on bodily systems -- such as chemotherapy and radiation -- were often as toxic as the cancers that they were targeting.

But immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own immune system by teaching it to identify, fight, and ultimately eradicate cancer at the molecular level.

Immunotherapy is not quite futuristic tech, but not entirely far off either.

There are already approved immunotherapy treatments for various types of cancer, including prostate, kidney, lung, and melanoma to name a few. And there are additional treatments being tested for leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, for example.

According to a June 2016 report from QuintilesIMS, more than 70 new cancer treatments were launched in just the past five years.

Nevertheless, the stock market doesn’t appear to have clued in yet. But, haste makes money in this case (in my opinion anyway)!

Which returns us to the subject of LONCAR ETF.

Most immunotherapy developments are lost within traditional biotech mutual funds so you can’t really harness the futuristic “molecular” innovation we’re talking about for fun & (likely) profit:

Specifically, Loncar has done the hard work for you when it comes to identifying the best investment bets in this sector.

Every company included in this equally weighted ETF has met or meets one or more of the following four criteria:

1. It has to have a cancer immunotherapy drug or treatment approved by the USFDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) or the EMA (European Medicines Agency).
2. The company has to have at least one cancer immunotherapy drug in human trials.
3. The company has publicly announced intentions to begin human trials.
4. The company has publicly announced an immunotherapy collaboration or partnership with a major pharma player.

Hence, most of the companies based on vapor-ware -- which could implode and drag down a fund’s performance -- have already been weeded out.

Even better, you are getting a blend of large and small players when you buy into CNCR that includes companies like Amgen Inc. (NasdaqGS:AMGN) and AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN) that are practically household names and less-well-known competitors like Agenus Inc. (NasdaqCM:AGEN) and Curis Inc. (NasdaqGM:CRIS) .

What’s more, because of the built-in diversity by company, you’re gaining access to a wider net of treatment approaches including IDO Checkpoint inhibitors, pro-body immunotherapies and oncolytic viruses (none of which I sufficiently understand to provide a plain-English explanation of what they do).

But regardless, onto the final bonus feature of this ETF fund: it is rebalanced semi-annually which basically means that this practice forces fund managers to buy low, but also sell high -- which, of course, benefits the investor in the form of higher returns over time.

The fund’s share price drifted lower in 2016 because of the prevailing “tech-stock’ ennui – meaning a still reasonable entry point for initial purchases (then periodically augmented on market drops).

Meld that with The Donald’s plans to ease the regulatory burden on developmental therapies, and speed drugs to patients who need them at affordable prices, and you should have a recipe for a rally in this sector.

Nuff said on this topic for now.

-- Murray Soupcoff

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