How JP Morgan Healthcare trends inform pharma ‘mood music’ for 2022 15 Feb 2022
The JP Morgan Healthcare conference is the flagship global investment-focused life sciences event and marked its 40th year in January 2022. Due to travel and safety concerns associated with the spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-COV-2 the event took place using a digital format rather than face to face. 
Typically, the hot topics from JP Morgan set the tone for the life science community for the rest of the year. In this short round up, we will summarise some of the key themes and ‘mood music’ emerging from the conference that have been reported by the industry press.
First of all, the UK featured strongly at the meeting. Prime Minister Boris Johnson participated as the single invited political leader, presenting a keynote highlighting the potential of the UK for finding innovative solutions for the future through partnership working between government, academic institutions, and commercial life science companies.  He said, “Now we want to apply this formula to the biggest healthcare problems of our age, including cancer, dementia and obesity. Our aim is to work side-by-side with each and every one of you, mobilising the UK’s national expertise in every field, from clinical research to genomics to health data, to test and trial innovations on a scale big enough to deliver solutions for the world.” 
Chris Wigley, the Chief Executive Officer of Genomics England, and Lord David Prior of NHS England also gave keynote talks.  It’s true that the pandemic has put the UK’s genomics capabilities at centre stage.
Collaborations- not large M&A shape business development
While investment activity was more limited than in previous years, without a flurry of showstopping large deals, the focus is now on so called smaller ‘bolt-on’ deals, and licensing and collaboration agreements adding technologies as well as drug opportunities. Evaluate Pharma noted that many of the deals involved cell therapies and oncology, including a research collaboration between Century Therapeutics and Bristol Myers Squibb for up to four cell therapies for haematological and solid tumours, and between Crescendo Biologics and BioNTech for mRNA-based antibodies and engineered cell therapies. 
Artificial Intelligence solutions have multiple applications
The use of artificial intelligence and analytics to make sense of data for better decisions by payers, sponsors and healthcare providers continues to be a focus of interest and investment. Key deals included Merck’s agreement with Absci, a company that uses AI to find drug targets, Sanofi’s AI for drug discovery partnership with UK headquartered Exscientia, and Amgen’s agreement with machine learning start-up Generate Biomedicines. 
Telehealth models are evolving
In the US ‘virtual first’ healthcare models that address patient need virtually and link where necessary the patient with in-person services, are being increasingly discussed.  For example, Babylon Health is moving away from traditional ‘sickness care’ and towards an artificial intelligence informed model that monitors the patient and intervenes early to avoid acute serious health problems at a later date. The digital trend is also extending into behavioural health services with companies such as Talkspace. While our healthcare model in the UK is different to the US’, there are emerging trends towards telehealth with the use of services such as Livi, which provide remote access to GPs. The pandemic has highlighted gaps in the healthcare systems of many nations which will need to be addressed. 
While we may not all be able to attend the JP Morgan Healthcare conference, the healthcare trends discussed at the Conference will produce a ripple effect throughout 2022.
To discuss the issues shaping the pharma and biotech landscape over the next 12 months, join our upcoming Virtual Breakfast Briefing on 24th February 2022 – “Medical Affairs in 2022: Business as usual, or a reshaped environment?”
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