Over the last 20 years, one of the key developments in medicine has been the advent of so-called precision medicine. This exciting new field promises to almost completely eliminate side effects associated with old time treatments through the precise targeting of diseased tissue and organisms causing illness. Nowhere has this been more promising than in the field of cancer treatment, where precision medicine has led to such novelties as targeted cancer therapy, one of the most exciting developments in cancer treatment over the last 50 years.
Within the umbrella of targeted cancer therapy lies one of the more innovative applications of the many processes that encompass this new class of drugs. Known as antibody drug conjugates, this new class of drugs uses synthetic human antibodies to deliver highly lethal cytotoxins directly to the site of malignancies, resulting in extremely high cure rates and the almost complete elimination of the horrible side effects previously associated with chemotherapy regimens.
The development of this promising new line of drugs has been primarily led by Seattle Genetics and its co-founder Clay Siegall. After having worked with pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb for more than 10 years as a senior researcher, Dr. Siegall branched out on his own, forming his own company that would be dedicated full-time to the development and research of new lines of antibody drug conjugates. After overseeing the largest IPO and biotech history, which raised more than a billion dollars, Seattle Genetics was set to begin serious development of the first FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate, which would come in 2011.
After more than 13 years of intense research and development, Seattle Genetics was awarded full FDA-approval for its drug ADCetris, approved for use in refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Over the last six years, the drug has proven itself to be highly effective in treating these patients who had otherwise lost hope for treating their lymphoma. Dr. Siegall says that, very soon, it is likely that this drug will be approved by the FDA for frontline treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well as some other off-label applications.
Under Dr. Siegall’s leadership, Seattle Genetics also has more than 20 drugs in the development pipeline and dozens more in the first stages of development. Seattle Genetics continues to follow a strategy of developing drugs for classes of cancer that have not seen significant mortality improvement over the last 30 to 40 years.
In so doing, Seattle Genetics is saving thousands of lives a year and doing some of the most innovative work in cancer research today.