Mapping the more than 1,000 biotech and pharma layoffs in January 2024

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On the heels of a strong year of FDA approvals, there are signs in early 2024 that the biotech sector is recovering. Examples include two recent biotech IPOs, signs of investor optimism and continued M&A momentum. But the biotech sector continues to see a significant number of layoffs. Major layoffs in early 2024 include companies like Cara Therapeutics, Ikena Oncology, Pfizer, and Sana Biotechnology. In early 2024, the rate of layoff events has continued at roughly the same clip over the past several months. Altogether, there were more than 1,300 job cuts in January.

Public companies driving the most layoffs

In terms of the source of the layoffs, public companies such as Pfizer, Intellia Therapeutics, and Thermo Fisher Scientific are letting the most workers go, with more than 600 layoffs in January 2024. Next in line are clinical-stage companies such as the oncology-focused biotec…

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Pharma M&A activity primed for another high-flying year in 2024

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Despite challenging interest rates and regulatory environment, pharma M&A activity surged in 2023 with deal volume up more than 30% from the prior year based on a review of more than 200 acquisitions since 2018. The total disclosed deal value in 2023 also more than doubled the prior year’s tally to surpass $100 billion. While the pandemic boosted research into areas such as mRNA, it had something of a chilling effect on M&A. As pharma companies begin to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, M&A activity has gained momentum. 

Analysts upbeat on biopharma M&A activity in 2024

According to PwC, the M&A activity in the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector could continue humming in 2024. Despite a challenging interest rate environment, PwC projects the sector to see deal values ranging from $225 billion to $275 billion. Deal volume in 2023 was in line with pre-pandemic levels. …

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50 of the best-funded biotechs of 2023

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As the year draws to a close, it is clear that molecular science and diagnostics is the hottest funding area in the biotech industry. In an analysis of 50 of the best-funded biotechs of 2023 focused on human health, molecular and science and diagnostics startups collectively attracting roughly $945 million, dwarfing the figures in other segments. The next popular two niches, gene therapies and oncology, had average funding levels of approximately $245 million and $170 million, respectively. While AI has received a significant amount of attention this year, biotechs specializing in that field garnered an average funding of only about $66 million. Outside of the life sciences, startups with a broader focus on AI raised a cumulative average of $202.47 million, based on an analysis of close to 1000 companies.

Caris Life Sciences has raised nearly $1.7B to date

In terms of best-funded companies overall,…

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A-Alpha Bio attracts $51M in total funding to advance machine-learning-driven protein interaction research

3D illustration of an antibody [peterschreiber.media/Adobe Stock]

A central hurdle in computational protein design is the mismatch between proteins designed in silico and their actual behavior after synthesis. “You can design millions of proteins on a computer over the course of a week or a month, but computational approaches are just not good enough,” explained David Younger, co-founder and CEO of A-Alpha Bio, in a recent interview. That is, after synthesis, the proteins often do not behave as desired.

Furthermore, the throughput for manual protein experiments is typically low. “You might be able to design millions of proteins, but you might only be able to test 10,” Younger said. The company thus built a platform designed to mitigate this bottleneck by focusing on protein binding — a crucial aspect of protein function.

Established in 2017 as a spinoff from the Institute for Protein Design at the Univers…

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BenevolentAI is pioneering AI-driven drug discovery methods

“Can we treat chronic inflammation in ulcerative colitis by reversing immune cell activation in colonic mucosa?” That’s an example of a biological question that the AI-enabled drug discovery firm BenevolentAI (AMS:BAI) would ask when exploring a new drug target.

Incorporating a disease, sign, mechanism and tissue into a single question provides focal points for the company’s AI models to explore when generating target hypotheses, said Anne Phelan, chief scientific officer of Benevolent AI in a presentation at the Royal Society earlier this year.

BenevolentAI’s strategy involves a comprehensive understanding of the biological systems underlying various diseases, breaking down silos in clinical areas and tapping diverse multimodal data to discover novel therapeutic targets. For ulcerative colitis, the company’s AI models sift through vast amounts of scientific literature and data to spot promising targets and pathways that could potentially alleviate …

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The 50 best-selling pharmaceuticals of 2022: COVID-19 vaccines poised to take a step back

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the best-selling pharmaceuticals, leading to shifts in the list with Pfizer and BioNTech’s Comirnaty surpassing AbbVie’s Humira for the No. 1 spot in 2021. That momentum continued in 2022, with Pfizer and BioNTech jointly raking in $59.1 billion in revenue from the sales of the COVID-19 vaccine. Although Comirnaty maintained its position as the best-selling pharmaceutical of 2022, it experienced a roughly 5% drop in sales compared to the previous year.

As the best-selling pharmaceuticals of 2022 demonstrate, signs are emerging that the reign of COVID-19 vaccines and  other therapies appears to be slipping.. The two companies — and Moderna — plan on hiking prices to address the weakening demand.

Humira: The second best-selling pharmaceutical of 2022 looking strong

Meanwhile, the heavyweight tumor necrosis factor (TNF) block…

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Private equity and SPACs in the biopharma and biotech landscape

During the past few years, the biopharma and biotech markets have seen rapid growth. The global biotechnology market was worth $266 billion in 2019 is projected to reach $505 billion by 2026.1 In those strategic and important markets, what roles do private equity and Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) play?

An overview of the biotech sector

On Euronext, the biotech sector has been resilient despite the impact of COVID-19. In 2020, the market capitalization of the 62 biotech firms listed reached a record of €29 billion, up €5.3627 billion compared to 2019. The share price of listed biotech companies increased by 66.8% in the first half of 2020. In the second half of the year, it grew by 29.7%.

In the U.S., major biotech stock indices were also high in 2020. In addition, biotech IPOs were very strong both in value and number, with $14 billion raised in 74 deals.

The U.S. continues to lead the biopharma IPO market. Next in line is the China IPO m…

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