A lab technician prepares to thawing blood bag before genetically modifying a patients immune cells. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

China's aggressive focus on prescription drugs includes developing its own version of CAR-T, one of the most ambitious therapies on the market, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Chinese scientists are attempting to develop CAR-T therapies — which genetically engineer a patient's own immune cells to destroy cancer cells — much faster and with a much cheaper price tag than those in the U.S.

But there are concerns that the country is moving too fast and considering loosening oversight too much.

  • While American and European companies take two to three weeks to engineer each patient's CAR-T therapy, Chinese startup Gracell Biotechnology makes theirs overnight.
  • Gracell plans to price its treatment — which is still experimental — at around $71,000. The two CAR-Ts approved in the U.S. have price tags of $475,000 and $373,000.

What they're saying: "We all want these therapies to move fast and some are very good, but we need to be aware that some could be moving too fast for their expertise, even if they have very good intentions," Bruce Levine, a professor specializing in cancer gene therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, told Bloomberg.

The big picture: The Chinese market for drugs is enormous, particularly for cancer drugs.

  • China is home to the largest cancer population in the world, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: China offers drug companies market access in exchange for lower prices

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m. EST: 32,062,182 — Total deaths: 979,701 — Total recoveries: 22,057,268Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m EST: 6,967,103 — Total deaths: 202,558 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
  3. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  5. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  6. Sports: Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  7. Science: During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.

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