Ruminations of a Taco-Obsessed Philly Native

One of the persistent problems that has plagued the use of chemotherapy throughout its existence has been the horrendous side effects associated with the use of this drug. Often times, patients are limited in the amount of chemotherapeutic agents they can be given at one time. This is simply due to the fact that the drug is so poisonous that it can actually directly lead to the patient’s death, by itself. This has severely limited the usefulness of chemotherapeutic regimens in some of the most difficult to treat cancer types.


Even so, the basic premise of chemotherapy is airtight. In theory, almost any tumor could be completely eliminated through the administration of chemotherapy. The only limiting factor is the amount of drug that a patient is able to tolerate. This has long vexed the medical establishment, leading to many efforts to increase the amount of chemotherapy that can be safely given to any patient group at a given time.


One of these efforts has led to the creation of so-called antibody drug conjugates. These targeted cancer therapies are able to use synthetic human antibodies as the means to directly deliver the chemotherapeutic agent, known as a cytotoxin, directly to the site of the tumor. They do this through the natural process that antibodies use to create molecular keys that directly fit only the specific tissue created by the tumor. In doing so, it is possible to use these natural defense mechanisms to bind cytotoxins directly to a delivery mechanism that only releases the poison upon direct contact with the malignant tissue.


Clay Siegall has been a leading figure in the development of this exciting new class of drugs. After founding his own company, Seattle Genetics, which is the sole pharmaceutical firm in the country dedicated solely to the creation of antibody drug conjugates, Dr. Siegall has made a name for himself as a leading innovator in the targeted cancer therapy space.


In 2011, Seattle Genetics was granted its first FDA approval for an antibody drug conjugate. This not only marks the company’s first FDA-approved drug but the first antibody drug conjugate ever approved for use in the wide market by that agency.