One of the most serious problems that have traditionally plagued chemotherapeutic drugs has been the inability of doctors to administer high dosages at any given time. This is a direct consequence of the severe side effects that normally ensue from ingesting large doses of chemotherapy, which is nothing more than poison that kills fast-reproducing cells. Unfortunately, these cytotoxic agents have long been the most effective way to treat most types of cancer. They have been responsible for the dramatic improvement in mortality rates of almost all types of cancer since the beginning of the 20th century.
However, many types of cancer eventually become non-responsive to chemotherapy. This is not so much a product of the ineffectiveness of the drug itself, but instead, it is a reflection of the fact that sufficient quantities of the drug simply cannot be safely administered to patients. This has led to many cancer researchers attempting to find ways to increase the amount of chemotherapeutic agents that can be administered safely to patients at any given time.
Oncologists refer to this low safe dosage as a narrow therapeutic window. The therapeutic window is the range of dosages between the minimum amount required to produce a clinical effect and the maximum amount that can be administered without putting the patient into a state of overdose. The goal within cancer drug development has long been to create a cancer drug that has a much wider therapeutic window than the traditional chemotherapy agents.
Clay Siegall has been leading the charge to create such drugs. As founder and CEO of Seattle Genetics, the only biotech firm in the world dedicated completely to the development of antibody drug conjugates, a class of targeted cancer therapy drugs, Dr. Siegall has long had it as a goal to create a drug that allows for massive infusions of lethal cytotoxins directly to the site of tumors.
Through the creation of antibody drug conjugates, Dr. Siegall has been able to do this. With his drug ADCetris, Dr. Siegall has created the first FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate, a drug which has been saving thousands of lives each year and is proving the concept of antibody drug conjugates.