JPM2024: Cancer Biotech Executives Look Ahead to the Coming Year

Pictured: San Francisco’s Union Square/iStock, travelview

Biotechs in the cancer space are preparing for readouts and other developments for the year. BioSpace sat down with several executives in the cancer space to talk about their coming year and the critical role of JPM.

Market Environment

Olema Oncology is developing the drug palazestrant to treat ER+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer. CEO Sean Bohen said that despite the headwinds of 2023, Olema was able to raise money and saw its stock price rise. For the wider biotech world, Bohen is also hopeful that successes in the beginning of the year will attract more investors and capital to the cancer sector.

“We’re seeing an improvement in the overall economic environment, [the] FED talking about reducing interest rates, inflation seeming to have cooled. And so, we would like to see that market environment improve because that does help with access to capital,” Bohen said.

Market improvement in the cancer sphere is something that many biotechs need, as some face severe situations.

“For some [companies], it’s an existential crisis,” Bohen said. “They’re running out of cash. . . . I think what we’re seeing right now, though, is this very prolonged biotech bear market. We’re seeing people even come to us because we can raise cash with assets. . . . But I look at the data generated and think, ‘You can’t raise money for this? This looks like it could help people.’ . . . And I worry about this negative environment is starting to cut deeply.”

Bohen notes that the cancer space has seen remarkable progress, with different therapeutic options and modalities coming out such as ADCs and radiopharmaceutical treatments. But he cautioned that these popular modalities, while they get attract big investments, it will not be “as easy or as great” as initially conceived.

JPM’s Impact

The timing of the conference is vital for biotechs as they begin the year, as it gets the conversation rolling on potential investments and outlooks in the cancer sphere. Still, Bohen noted that while the meeting is essential for everyone and there was a rally in the biotech sphere in late 2023, the “fundamental challenge” hasn’t changed much.

“The need for better treatments for various diseases hasn’t gone anywhere,” and many big pharmaceutical companies are facing patent cliffs toward the end of this decade that could mean billions of dollars in lost revenue, he noted. “And so I think in that company environment, one being able to meet with investors, being able to meet with potential partners, and talk about how we advance these therapies forward, this is a vital forum for that,” he said.

Spiro Rombotis, CEO of Cyclacel, which is developing treatments for solid tumors, lymphoma and leukemias, said that for biotechs and particularly cancer biotechs, the week is “critical.” Not only is it a forum for meeting with investors, partners and analysts, but it serves as an “invaluable tool” to see how the year will go.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at Follow him on LinkedIn.

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