JP Morgan Healthcare on Acquisitions, AI Advancements, More

January 17, 2024

By Bio-IT World Staff

January 17, 2024 | At this year’s JP Morgan Healthcare conference, biotech and diagnostic companies and experts provided overviews of 2023 accomplishments and their goals for 2024. We’ve covered presentations by NVIDIARegeneronIllumina, Pacific Biosciences, and Oxford Nanopore in depth. Here we list highlights from Pfizer, Moderna, Eli Lilly, Thermo Fisher, and more. 


10x Genomics says life sciences has come into its own in spatial biology. CEO Serge Saxonov reported selling more than 250 Xenium instruments in its first year after launch and “incredible enthusiasm” from customers. “The ability to preserve single-cell context and spatial information is going to be critical across just about all measurements in biology,” Saxonov said, and he sees a critical role for each of the three 10x platforms—Visium, Chromium, and Xenium—in enabling the future of biology, and he outlined coming improvements to all three platforms in improved sensitivity, throughput, scale, ease of use, and more.  

Amgen has plans to invest in AI across the company, advance human data effects, and harness the tools of AI against that data. It was announced that Amgen will develop an AI model for NVIDIA to analyze one of the world’s largest human data sets on NVIDIA’s DGX SuperPOD. The system will be named Freyja after the Norse goddess associated with life and having the ability to predict the future. The AI is intended to provide diagnostics on disease progression and regression and help develop AI-driven precision medicine models that can help generate more individualized treatments for patients.  

CRISPR Technologies is well-positioned for commercial success for a gene-editing drug for Sickle-Cell Disease. They’ve expanded three franchises for oncology, cardiovascular, and diabetes and received a $14.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance editing hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in vivo. Furthermore, the company poises to continue next-generation editing as their leading role. CEO Dr. Samarth Kulkarni stated, “We have the foundational IP for any effector protein tethered to a Cas9 to make any edit in the genome or any modification in the genome when it is directed by a guide. Second, we’re not tied to one or the other. We’re not tied to base editing or a certain other form of editing.” 

Deepcell CEO Maddison Masaeli announced the achievement of key commercial milestones for the REM-I platform and the company’s continued vision for the use of generative AI in single cell analysis. Deepcell also announced a research collaboration with NVIDIA to accelerate the development and adoption of advanced computer vision solutions in life sciences. Deepcell will incorporate NVIDIA AI into its single cell analysis technology, working collaboratively with NVIDIA to codevelop new uses for generative AI and multimodal applications in cell biology. 

Eli Lilly is engaging with the biotech ecosystem through their catalyze360 program, a broader approach to external innovation focused on meeting a variety of partner needs. There are three assets to catalyze360: Lilly Ventures, which serves as an investor and strategic partner to the global ecosystem; Lilly ExploR&D, which shares enterprise learning from scientific to technical know-how; and Lilly Gateway Labs, which brings site experience to biotech. Eli Lilly also intends to focus more on connecting with their people and developing methodologies to create more innovation in the future. CEO David A. Ricks said, “Acquisition is not just assets, but people and methodologies—and ways to make even more medicines. Surely, one of the ways that big pharma can grow R&D productively is by having more great minds around the table and more difference in how we think about creating drugs, and this is a strategy we’ll be pursuing going forward.” 

ICON plans to continue accelerating AI development. With their ICON AI Centre of Excellence and team of AI experts, they were able to deliver innovative solutions powered by AI, machine learning, NLP, and generative AI. Some examples of proprietary products include OneSearch, which is a leading industry site and investigator selection tool; Cassandra, which is used to predict post-marketing study requirements; ICONex, which identifies key opinion leaders for all therapeutics; and iSubmit, the leading solution for document management. These AI platforms allow more efficient site identification and patient recruitment. 

Moderna has had a successful 2023, with Covid-19 vaccines sales breaking $6 billion and the company expanding its US market. For 2024, they have plans to transition to the endemic market and to expand their four franchises of respiratory vaccines, latent and other vaccines, oncology therapeutics, and rare disease therapeutics even further. They also anticipate further studies and clinical trials in 2024. Finally, Moderna expects their Covid-19 franchise to be profitable from 2024 and beyond.  

Pfizer acquired Seagen last year for $43 billion. As a world leader in antibody drug conjugates (ADCs), Seagen’s technology and Pfizer’s network will allow great strides in cancer treatment research. There have been some concerns regarding how Pfizer and Seagen will collaborate their efforts together. Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla addressed these concerns, “We have seen multiple times that big companies like us buying smaller companies like Seagen and killing innovation in the first one year because they bring them into their own bureaucracy—and they try to ‘Pfizerize’ them.” He went on to elaborate that Pfizer will focus on nurturing Seagen in a way that will allow them to effectively execute their research.   

At Sage Therapeutics, Kevin Starr has retired from his position as the Chair of the Board of Directors. Geno Germano has taken over as the new Chair. The company intends to advance several programs, such as continuing commercialization of ZURZUVAE for post-partum depression in women. They also plan to expand dalzanemdor (SAGE-718), which is anticipated for various further studies in 2024, and SAGE-324, which is in development and anticipated as an oral therapy for movement disorders with data from a Phase 2 study expected in mid-2024. 

Thermo Fisher successfully partnered with many major organizations, such as Pfizer and Flagship, to develop first-in-class therapies and power the biotech ecosystem. The company intends to continue expanding customer excellence centers and to leverage AI to further optimize commercial effectiveness and improve customer experience. Chairman Marc N. Capser commented, “When I think about AI, there’s sort of two aspects to it: how you run the company and where do you create new value.” Adopting AI—particularly generative AI—has helped Thermo Fisher create new ways to develop new products and services with better efficiency.