Chinese biotech sector, leader in CAR-T technology

China has clearly acquired an outstanding position in the CAR-T area, with 116 ongoing clinical trials, versus 96 in the US and 15 in Europe. Chinese researchers are obtaining positive results in the treatment of blood cancers considered incurable before now, reflecting the progress in the area, especially thanks to the large investment made by international investors–up to $10bn in 2017. The Chinese companies working on CAR-T are about thirty now. The best-known of them is probably Nanjing Legend, and above all its subsidiary GenScript. The companies have attracted interest from Johnson & Johnson, which has invested $350m in a partnership with Legend. Legend’s leading asset is LCAR-B38M, an investigational therapy for multiple myeloma, which will enter into direct competition with the therapy currently being developed by Bluebird and Celgene. Shanghai-based biotech company Innovative Cellular Therapeutics has attracted important investors as well, since it proposes a new approach to CAR-T technology, aimed at facilitating commercialization. A relevant factor underlying the Chinese biotech boom is price: CAR-T technology is so expensive–$475,000–that few patients can afford it. Chinese companies, however, could manage to sell it at one sixth of the average current US marketing prices.

(Source: FT)