The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending December 1, 2023, closed at 3,080.37 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was down -0.51% (or -15.68 basis points). Fourteen RDWI members gained value last week from 0.23% (Cisco) to 14.83% (General Motors) Eleven RDWI members lost value last week from -0.01% (Novartis) to -4.60% (Alphabet/Google).
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Seattle, announced last week that it is looking to expand its relationships with large pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, New York City, and Amgen, Thousand Oaks, California, to expand its use of cloud computing in drug discovery and manufacturing. Both of these pharma have used AWS for several years to improve their operational efficiencies, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic period. AWS is now expanding to include a new Amazon robotic assembly and final product packaging to reduce downtime and find ways to increase capacities. With new generative artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, there are fewer technical skills required to operate data systems. AWS services do not operate with proprietary systems, such as are used by other cloud and AI services.
RDW Index member AstraZeneca, Cambridge, U.K., announced last week that it will have a new R&D facility up and running at the University of Hong Kong, China, by the end of 2024. The research labs will be linked to the United Nations (UN) International Vaccine Institute based in South Korea and the University of Cambridge, U.K., to produce vaccines for new infectious diseases. The facility will be the first of its kind to be established in Hong Kong. The new research institute will also be linked to mainland China vaccine laboratories. AstraZeneca is among more than 30 foreign and mainland China life science companies that recently pledged to invest $4 billion in Hong Kong.
RDW Index member AbbVie, North Chicago, Illinois, announced last week that it plans to buy biotech ImmunoGen, Waltham, Massachusetts, for $10.1 billion to increase its cancer drug portfolio. ImmunoGen develops antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) which deliver toxic drugs directly to cancer tumors. These ADCs are now commonly used in the fight against breast cancer. AbbVie expects to complete the acquisition by mid-2024. AbbVie’s present cancer drug portfolio contains blood cancer drugs Imbruvica and Venclexta. AbbVie was pushed to find a new cancer treatment when its top-selling Humira started facing lower-price competition earlier this year.
It was announced last week that RDW Index member Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, New Jersey, has hired about 6,000 data scientists and digital specialists in the past few years to scour massive health-record data sets. As a result, the company opened a state-of-the-art research site near San Francisco to house its advanced data science work. Early work at this site focused on diagnostic algorithms that analyze medical tests to spot early signs of health disorders. The company’s main goal is to use AI for drug discovery. Start-up biotechs are now in the very early stages of human testing of AI-discovered drugs.
Auto conglomerate Renault, Paris, confirmed last week that it is moving ahead with the initial public offering (IPO) of its electric vehicle (EV) unit, Ampere, which is now scheduled for spring 2024. Renault is setting up Ampere to be the top EV producer in Europe by making cheaper EVs than its rivals. Analysts are unsure about the soundness of Renault’s IPO decision in a period of declining demand and pricing. Renault says the IPO is the best way to raise money to accelerate growth and profitability, which will eventually reward its shareholders. For the Ampere, Renault will initially rely on the support of local and joint venture suppliers. The auto analysts point out the EV problems recently seen in Polestar and Rivian ventures.
A report published in the Wall Street Journal last week examined researchers’ use of veterinarians’ test results to train AI tools that speed up the results of animal tests and are being used in human diagnostics as well. The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, began using diagnostic algorithms developed for animal testing by Techcyte, Salt Lake City, to inform its AI development. With these results, Mayo researchers have decreased its 200-patient daily data backlog from two weeks to just 24 hours. Testing companies are now beginning to use this tool for parasite testing in fecal samples. Techcyte is working with federal regulators to allow small sites to use the algorithms in tests to give patients the results before their appointment ends.
RDW Index member Novartis, Basel, Switzerland, announced last week that it expects its sales to grow at a 5% compound annual rate between 2022 and 2027, up from the 4% rate it previously set. Part of this increased growth is due to the increased traction from the company’s recently launched cancer and multiple sclerosis drugs and other key experimental drugs in development. The company continues to overhaul its business organization, with the completion of its spinoff of the Sandoz unit and the cuts from 150 drugs in the pipeline in 2022 to its current 113 pipeline load. The reorganization has narrowed Novartis’s focus to high-margin therapies while shedding itself of consumer, eye-care, and generic drug units.
R&D World’s R&D Index is a weekly stock market summary of the top international companies involved in R&D. The top 25 industrial R&D spenders in 2020 were selected based on the latest listings from Schonfeld & Associates’ June 2020 R&D Ratios & Budgets. These 25 companies include pharmaceutical (10 companies), automotive (6 companies), and ICT (9 companies) which invested a cumulative total of nearly 260 billion dollars in R&D in 2019, or approximately 10% of all the R&D spending in the world by government, industry, and academia combined, according to R&D World’s 2021 Global R&D Funding Forecast. The stock prices used in the R&D World Index are tabulated from NASDAQ, NYSE, and OTC common stock prices for the companies selected at the close of stock trading business on the Friday preceding the online publication of the R&D World Index.