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Chinese biotechs look to next-generation CAR T technologies to solve market challenges

Chinese CAR T cell companies are mapping out solutions to their cost problem

Chinese CAR T cell companies are mapping out solutions to their cost problem

Apr 2, 2021 | 9:42 PM GMT

Though nearly every Chinese CAR T developer is prioritizing autologous programs, the key to expanding access to the modality on the price-sensitive China market is likely to be the next-generation platforms these companies are quietly building. 

These second-generation technologies — many designed with cost-cutting in mind — range from protocols to compress manufacturing timelines to off-the-shelf products that can be produced at scale.

The high cost of developing autologous CAR T cell therapies isn’t a problem unique to China.

Sales continue to lag for the first two approved CAR Ts that entered the U.S. market nearly four years ago. Sales of Kymriah tisagenlecleucel from Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; SIX:NOVN) were $474 million in 2020 and didn’t make the pharma’s top 20 innovative medicines by revenue. Yescarta axicabtagene ciloleucel from Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) brought in $456 million in revenue for the year.

Chinese CAR T cell companies could face an even steeper uphill battle, with fewer patients able to afford these high-priced therapies and national coverage unlikely given budget constraints.

Despite the challenges, domestic companies are continuing to forge ahead with autologous programs and have had no difficulty raising money from global investors. 

Two CD19 CAR

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