BioPharma

7 JPM Announcements You Don’t Want to Miss

This year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference brought a bevy of news announcements — from acquisitions to partnerships to new products and more. This list compiles short summaries for seven of the event’s most notable announcements.

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This year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, which wrapped on Thursday, enabled healthcare leaders from all over the country to convene, have discussions and network. The event also featured a slew of news announcements from companies all over the healthcare sector.

Below are seven notable announcements made during the conference.

Mayo Clinic forges AI collaboration with Cerebras Systems

Mayo Clinic launched a partnership with Silicon Valley-based AI firm Cerebras Systems to develop new AI models for healthcare use cases. Mayo plans to apply Cerebras’ computing chips and systems to the health system’s wealth of anonymized medical records and data, which spans several decades.

The health system said that the AI models developed under this partnership will perform a number of functions. For example, some tools will be able to generate summaries of key information from new patients’ medical records. Others may be able to quickly examine genome data or scrutinize medical images to identify patterns that may elude the human eyes of trained medical professionals. 

Mayo noted these new AI models will not make medical decisions, as the responsibility for such judgments will continue to rest with doctors. The new models will eventually become available on Mayo Clinic Platform, a data network used by health systems in the U.S. and abroad.

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Physician Targeting Using Real-time Data: How PurpleLab’s Alerts Can Help

By leveraging real-time data that offers unprecedented insights into physician behavior and patient outcomes, companies can gain a competitive advantage with prescribers. PurpleLab®, a healthcare analytics platform with one of the largest medical and pharmaceutical claims databases in the United States, recently announced the launch of Alerts which translates complex information into actionable insights, empowering companies to identify the right physicians to target, determine the most effective marketing strategies and ultimately improve patient care.

Boston Scientific to acquire Axonics for $3.7 billion

Boston Scientific announced its plan to acquire Axonics, a maker of neurostimulation devices that treat urinary and bowel dysfunction, for $3.7 billion. Experts agree that this deal will make a profitable impact on Boston Scientific’s urology business.

Axonics offers both rechargeable and recharge-free implants for sacral neuromodulation — a minimally invasive procedure that treats overactive bladder and bowel incontinence. This type of therapy delivers mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves, which control the bladder, bowel and pelvic floor muscles. This modulation helps regulate and normalize nerve signaling — leading to improved coordination of bladder and bowel movements, reduced urinary incontinence and alleviation of symptoms associated with pelvic floor dysfunction.

The deal is the latest in a string of acquisitions Boston Scientific has made in the past two years. In 2022, the company announced acquisitions of hydrogel maker Obsidio, endoscopy device manufacturer Apollo Endosurgery and cardiovascular treatment device company Acotec Scientific. Last year, the company bought Relievant Medsystems, which makes devices for chronic back pain.

Amazon launches a program promoting digital health benefits 

Amazon rolled out a new initiative to help connect people to digital health benefits that they may not know are available to them through their employer or health plan. To do so, Amazon plans to partner with digital health companies offering programs that help manage chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

Amazon’s first partner for this new program is Omada Health — a San Francisco-based startup that provides virtual care for diabetes prevention, weight management, diabetes and hypertension.

When Amazon customers search for a device like a blood pressure monitor or blood glucose meter, they will see a notification alerting them that they might be eligible to join a chronic condition management program at no cost. Users can then visit the Amazon Health webpage to check if their employer or health plan has made Omada’s programs available to them. If they wish to participate, Amazon will guide them to Omada’s website to complete their enrollment.

U.S. employees leave about 30% of their total compensation on the table by not utilizing the benefits that are available to them, Amazon pointed out in its announcement. 

Johnson & Johnson to buy Ambrx for $2 billion

Johnson & Johnson reached a $2 billion deal to acquire clinical-stage Ambrx Biopharma. The deal is one of the many acquisitions that big pharmaceutical companies have made in the past few years in the antibody drug conjugate (ADC) space.

ADCs are a popular target for pharma acquisitions because they boast promising potential to make cancer treatment more effective. These drugs deliver toxic payloads directly to cancer cells, aiming to minimize damage to healthy cells and improve precision when attacking tumors.

Ambrx’s lead program targets the protein PSMA and is currently in Phase 1 testing for advanced prostate cancer. In November, the company reported promising data from a dose-escalation study and said it expects to have a recommended dose for Phase 2 testing in early 2024.

Abbott’s diabetes care unit announces first insulin pump integration in the U.S.

Abbott’s diabetes care business announced the integration of its FreeStyle Libre 2 Plus continuous glucose monitor into Tandem Diabetes Care’s t:slim X2 insulin pump. 

Abbott’s updated continuous glucose monitor was cleared by the FDA for use with automated insulin delivery in March of last year. The JPM announcement marks the first automated insulin delivery system to integrate Abbott’s new FreeStyle Libre 2 Plus sensor. 

This announcement comes a month after Tandem became the first company to integrate with Dexcom’s latest continuous glucose monitor.

Merck buys Harpoon Therapeutics for $680 million

Merck announced that it will acquire Harpoon Therapeutics, a developer of targeted cancer therapies, for $680 million. Harpoon conducts research on T cell engagers, a category of drugs that activate T cells to kill cancer cells.

Unlike conventional T cell engagers, Harpoon’s drugs not only bind to a T cell and a cancer cell, but also incorporate a domain that extends the therapy’s half-life. The company’s lead drug candidate is designed to target DLL3, a cancer protein expressed at high levels in small cell lung cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. The drug is in Phase 1/2 testing as a monotherapy in patients with advanced cancers that express the DLL3 protein.

Innovaccer launches generative AI-based clinical documentation tool

Innovaccer unveiled Sara Scribe, an AI solution designed to combat professional burnout. The AI assistant transcribes and then summarizes key information from the conversations held between providers and patients.

The tool not only analyzes patient-provider conversations — it also promises to use EHR and claims data to flag potential coding gaps, quality gaps and diagnoses.

Photo: Getty Images, Digital Vision