JPMorgan to Wager on Weight-Loss Boom With $500 Million Fund

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s asset-management arm raised more than $500 million for a biotech venture-capital fund that will bet on the hottest corner of health care: weight-loss drugs.

The fund closed this month, and “the top three choices are obesity, obesity and obesity,” Steve Squinto, the chief investment officer of the unit’s life-sciences team, said in an interview.

GLP-1s, as the weight-loss drugs are known, “are all the rage,” and the field is “wide open,” Squinto said. “This has the opportunity to be a pivotal moment in the pharmaceutical industry.”

The new class of weight-loss drugs has exploded in popularity in recent months, with ballooning demand causing shortages. Novo Nordisk A/S and Eli Lilly & Co. currently command the field, with list prices of $1,000 a month or more for a single user. As JPMorgan sees it, that presents an opening.

“It’s very unlikely that the future of obesity treatment will be dominated by a stable duopoly,” Gaurav Gupta, the fund’s managing partner, said in the interview. “There will be significant winners.”

JPMorgan, the biggest US bank, hired Squinto and Gupta in late 2022 as its $3.6 trillion asset-management business launched the life-sciences team. The group has seven employees and sits within the bank’s private-capital business, which is part of a larger alternatives arm.

The first offering, 270 Life Sciences Private Capital Fund I, has made five investments so far, Squinto said, though just one of them has been announced publicly: leading a $100 million Series A financing round for La Jolla, California-based startup Enlaza Therapeutics. In addition to weight-loss therapies, the fund will make investments in areas such as oncology and immunology.

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