China Is Winning Its War On Cancer Faster And Cheaper Than Everyone Else


Although only being used in clinical trials now, commercial CAR-T treatments are expected to be approved in China.

Gracell Biotechnology Ltd., a Chinese startup, is trialing an experimental gene therapy that works to cure cancer faster and cheaper than other market alternatives, according to Yahoo News

One of the most exciting developments in the quest to cure cancer, Chimeric Antigen Receptor-T cells (CAR-T) supercharge T-cells, the body’s main defense mechanism, and direct them to latch onto and destroy cancerous cells. 

Leukemia patients who failed to respond to other therapies have shown remission rates of over 90% within the first two months of treatment in clinical trials.

China, home to the world’s largest cancer population, is pushing CAR-T harder than other researchers and drugmakers around the world. 

While drug giants Novartis AG and Gilead Sciences Inc. have globally marketed CAR-T since 2017, it’s expensive and time-consuming. Novartis, a Swiss company, places a $475,000 price tag on their CAR-T therapy while California-based Gilead costs $373,000.

Yet, Gracell has developed a process that speeds up the cell production stage and can churn out cancer-killing immune cells overnight at a price of $71,000. 

However, there is growing concern among researchers that allowing hospitals to market treatments for a fee could prioritize profit-making over ethical considerations. Chinese President Xi Jinping has begun prioritizing regulations in order to combat this scenario and cement the country as a dominant world power. 

Commercial CAR-T treatments are expected to be approved in China in the next few years.

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