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Turning back the clock: are anti-aging drugs the future of healthcare?

By Citi Private Bank,

October 4, 2018Posted InInvestments, Citi and Investment Strategy

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that none of us are getting any younger. Indeed, the world’s population is aging more rapidly than ever before. By 2050, the United Nations estimates that the number of people aged over 60 globally will double from today’s levels.1 As a result, society faces an unprecedented challenge in treating – and paying for – the illnesses that accompany old age. Healthcare costs are already consuming an increasing share of economic output across the developed world, while public healthcare budgets are feeling the strain. Hope, however, may be at hand from the biotechnology industry.

With advancing age, human cells stop dividing, a process known as ‘cellular senescence.’ While this can help the body prevent cancer and heal wounds, the build-up of senescent cells in human tissue has also been identified as a driver of a variety of age-related diseases. These include arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and retinal degeneration. In tests on mice, however, medical researchers have discovered that removing senescent cells (SNC) prevented the onset of age-related diseases and restored normal tissue function. A related treatment for osteoarthritis of the human knee is now undergoing clinical trials and could be approved for commercial use by 2023.

If this and other treatments prove successful, they could have far-reaching consequences. Above all, they could effectively help to turn back time, enabling us to live more of our lives free of illness. For investors in the companies that develop and produce such treatments, the commercial opportunity could be significant. By the same token, it could create disruption for the providers of existing treatments, such as knee replacement surgery. Citi Private Bank sees the unprecedented innovation occurring in healthcare as an important theme for investors over the coming years. For further insights, please also see Anti-Aging Medicines in Citi GPS: Disruptive Innovations VI.

Citi GPS is Citigroup’s premier thought leadership product, which is designed to help clients navigate the global economy’s most demanding challenges, and identify future themes and trends. Citi GPS draws upon the expertise and insights of Citi’s 400 research analysts covering 3,250 stocks across 70 countries across the world.

1United Nations, via Haver, as of October 24, 2017. All forecasts are expressions of opinion and are subject to change without notice and are not intended to be a guarantee of future events.