Skip to Main Content

On the evening that would jolt the global traffic of cancer treatments, David Kim was driving his baby daughter around, trying to get her to sleep. Bedtime was rough: Only the smooth motion of a car could get her to doze off. So Kim was playing dad-chauffeur, with the radio on low, when he heard that President Trump was banning travel between the United States and Europe.

His mind instantly churned with questions. If movement was comforting to his daughter, for his clients, it was a necessity. At the time, he was director of global supply chain for Kite Pharma, and the firm’s new factory in the Netherlands was still four months from ready. That meant that the treatment hundreds of European cancer patients were relying on was transatlantic.


Reliance isn’t an exaggeration when it comes to CAR-T therapy — short for chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy — which, in plain English means sucking out a patient’s white blood cells, genetically programming them to find and kill cancer, and re-infusing them. Outside of clinical trials, the only people eligible are those whose lymphoma or leukemia has resisted other, more conventional treatments.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!


Comments are closed.