J.P. Morgan’s 42nd Annual Healthcare Conference – Enhanc3D Genomics’ Chair Chris Torrance offers his perspective

J.P. Morgan’s 42nd Annual Healthcare Conference 2024 (JPM24) took place last month in San Francisco, California. Widely regarded as the largest and most informative healthcare investment gathering, the conference serves as a hub for global industry professionals and healthcare companies, senior government officials, innovative technology developers, and investors to convene and discuss pivotal milestones and the latest and future trends in healthcare and medical innovation. Dr Chris Torrance, Chairman of the Board at Enhanc3D Genomics, attended JPM24 and offers his insights on this year’s event.

“The conference provides a unique platform for healthcare companies to announce new partnerships and deals, showcase their innovative technologies, and make new connections. This year was only the second in-person event post-pandemic, but there seemed to be a greater number of meetings, and an overall sense of optimism for 2024 to potentially be a turning point for the economy.

JPM Week and the parallel Biotech Showcase event provide industry professionals and healthcare companies exposure to a large number of potential investors and partners, all in one place, with a shared purpose of setting up the year’s potential deal flow. As with each year, it offered a fantastic opportunity to meet with candidate pharma partners and to gauge the sentiment for R&D investment and deal-making this year.

While many representatives of small biotech companies do not attend the ‘public market announcement’ JPM conference itself, JPM Week remains a unique opportunity to schedule meetings with candidate partners, or to set up meetings through more random collisions that can occur during ancillary biotech functions happening contemporaneously in the area.

JPM24: The year for PROTACS, vaccines, obesity drugs, antibody-drug conjugates, AI, and precision medicine

Over the course of the event, there were several key themes that caught the audiences’ attention, sparking discussions among investors and scientists. GLP-1 agonists, originally developed to treat diabetes, have been making headlines in recent months for their weight-loss effects and potential as anti-obesity drugs. According to J.P. Morgan Research, GLP-1 production capacity is expected to double in 2024, driven equally by treatment for diabetes and obesity.

In oncology, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) gained a lot of interest, due in part to the fact the ADC market is estimated to reach $20.51 billion by 2030. Meanwhile, there was also a lot of attention on vaccine development owing to the recognition of their critical role in effective and rapid responses to emerging infectious diseases and their impact on global health security. Another area that saw heightened interest included targeted protein degradation, with lots of discussions around PROTACs and molecular glues.

2023 was the year AI made its mark in healthcare and life science, but its application in drug development and precision medicine was a hot topic at JPM24. With better strategies for using AI in drug development and the use of high quality models and data, AI is set to transform the entire drug discovery process, from the discovery of novel targets and the development of new or repurposed therapies, to reducing clinical trial risk and cost and increased trial success.

With another JPM wrapped up, there is a sense of optimism for the year ahead with the prospect of new investment deals and collaborations on the horizon. We look forward to a year of growth and potential partnerships.”