ORLANDO, Fla. — One year ago, a Chinese scientist stepped up to a podium at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting and presented early results from a Chinese-developed CAR-T therapy for multiple myeloma. The patient responses to this CAR-T were among the highest ever reported, but the data, collected entirely from patients in Chinese hospitals — were met with skepticism from the standing-room crowd.
When the floor was opened for questions, several English-speaking scientists in the audience rose up, grabbed available microphones and cast doubt on the credibility and trustworthiness of the Chinese CAR-T data. The Chinese scientist, in halting English, struggled to respond. It was an uncomfortable scene, and not what you’d expect to see at a typically genteel cancer research meeting.
On Saturday at this year’s ASH meeting, the Chinese CAR-T data that were deemed too good to be true by skeptics a year ago received an important, confirmatory endorsement. The same CAR-T therapy, now being developed in the U.S. by pharma giant Johnson & Johnson and called JNJ-4528, showed very similarly effective, albeit preliminary results in a new clinical trial involving multiple myeloma patients.