The Fierce Biotech team has been all over the place this year: Copenhagen, Madrid, London, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and more. We’ve been virtually high-fiving in our Teams channel throughout the fall as each member picks up and heads out to an event here or there.
It’s been one of the busiest stretches I’ve overseen as Senior Editor for Fierce Biotech. This week, we’re taking a chance to slow down a bit, spend some time with family and celebrate the holidays—while of course, keeping an ever-watchful eye on the news.
This is always a good time of the year to reflect on the work my team has done as we begin planning to bring you even more stories and analysis in 2024. For the third year in a row, I have collected my favorite stories of the year, with a little perspective on how each one came about.
There’s a lot I’m proud of this year beyond this list. But just know that the writers and editors who bring you your daily dose of biotech news work incredibly hard behind the scenes to do so.
We’re heading into the New Year with plenty of great ideas, but first? It’s time for some mulled wine.
Enjoy, and Happy Holidays.
The rise of venture debt: When biotechs should—and shouldn't—use it
Gabrielle Masson was in the middle of a panel at Fierce's JPM Week event in January when the idea for this feature came to her. While listening to Vineeta Agarwala, M.D., Ph.D., a general partner at the venture capital firm a16z, discuss venture debt in the biotech climate at the time, Gabrielle walked off the stage, ready to put pen to paper—or fingers to the keyboard, rather. The result is this piece, which took a look at when using this financing mechanism might be a good idea for biotechs. Read the story here
Alzheimer's meds are here. But for the Down syndrome community, it's still the 1980s
A routine press release from AC Immune announcing some early data for an Alzheimer's disease vaccine sparked this idea. "ABATE will now be expanded, as planned, to include individuals with Down syndrome (DS) and to evaluate higher doses in Alzheimer’s patients." I had to know more about why they chose this population and why this was the only study from a biopharma I had ever seen focusing on the Down syndrome population. Read the story here
The delisting dilemma: Why do so many biotechs face being kicked off the Nasdaq?
The past two years have been brutal on biotechs. In the first quarter, we began to see the wear in the industry in the form of dozens of delisting notices. We used a Nasdaq database to see how many companies were listed as biotechs. After a whole lot of data crunching, we discovered that the vast majority of the companies listed were in fact from the life sciences industry and specifically, biotech. James Waldron got to work. Read the story here
Flush with Wegovy cash, Novo Nordisk's owner widens investment strategy beyond biotech
James traveled to Copenhagen for this story to hear straight from the Novo Nordisk Foundation about how they plan to spend their windfall from Wegovy. Fierce has been back on the conference circuit for awhile but it was refreshing to see a return to in-person journalism for a good old-fashioned feature. Read the story here
SVB failure triggers shock waves across biotech industry
So you want to be a bank reporter? Max Bayer, Gabrielle and I can't say we've ever wished that, but for a week in March we got to try out the industry after Silicon Valley Bank failed. The sudden failure became the largest since the 2008 financial crisis. With many biotechs banking with SVB, we were thrown into the mix. Read the story here
BIO: Big Pharma offers menu of partnering options, but biotechs want licensing entrée
I'll admit one of the reasons this story was so fun is how hard Max and I went after that dining metaphor in the image and headline. But Max also did some top-quality reporting live from BIO's CEO and Investor Conference, where he learned about shifting attitudes towards dealmaking between biotechs and pharmas. Read the story here
Editor's Corner—When ASCO dueled with the world's biggest pop star, Swift Biotech was ready for it
I try not to pick favorites on this list but—it's this, hi, this is the favorite, it's this. Hands down, no exceptions. Gabrielle made a joke about writing about Taylor Swift as she dashed between sessions at ASCO and was surprised when I said go for it. This story literally broke our website and freaked out our IT team. We were not sorry. Read the story here
'We don't know' what the limits are for RNA therapies
Our Fierce Biotech Research writer Helen Floersh lets the science take her down all sorts of amazing rabbit holes. She often comes to me with one idea, gets to work, and returns with something completely different and oftentimes even cooler. Here, she took a deep dive into the past, future and present of RNA therapeutics. Read the story here
J&J's pharma group quietly works through global overhaul, with layoffs expected to reach multiple countries
This story was published on our sister site Fierce Pharma but the reporting was led by Max. It's not often we get a glimpse into the boardroom with this much detail. Some outstanding reporting revealed some big changes afoot at J&J. Read the story here
Women left out of VC club fight for their identity, pulling each other up one by one
This story read like a collection of personal essays from top women in venture capital, but also revealed some of the sad truths of the industry: it's an old boy's club, and women have to pull each other up. Read the story here