Jun 23, 2021 08:03 PM

China Approves Its First CAR-T Cell Therapy

What’s new: China’s medical regulator approved the jurisdiction’s first CAR-T cell therapy — as a last-ditch treatment for specific types of blood cancer — on Wednesday.

China’s National Medical Products Administration gave the nod to Fosun Pharma Kite Biotechnology Co. Ltd., a joint venture of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. Ltd. and a unit of U.S. drug giant Gilead Sciences Inc., to start marketing Gilead’s Yescarta for the treatment of adults with B-cell lymphoma that has either relapsed or failed to respond to two other types of treatment.

But the promising therapy is expensive: Caixin has learned it could be priced at more than 1 million yuan ($154,000) per course.

The detail: The FDA approved Yescarta for similar uses in the U.S. in October 2017.

CAR-T cell therapy is a relatively new form of cancer treatment where doctors extract a patient's immune cells from their blood, and then add a special receptor to the cells that teaches them to kill the cancer. The altered cells are then grown en masse and injected back into the patient, effectively using their immune system to fight the disease.

It has other potential applications, such as for autoimmune diseases.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full Caixin article in Chinese.

Related: In Depth: Chinese With Rare Diseases Face Painful Predicament — Affordable Yet Unavailable Drugs

Contact reporter Flynn Murphy ( and editor Michael Bellart (

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