Clay Siegall is the godfather of antibody drug conjugates

Since the inception of chemotherapy in the 1940s, one of the key problems facing the usage of this treatment modality has been the inability of doctors to safely administer large amounts of the drug to the general patient population. This has severely limited the effectiveness of the drug, which otherwise would have virtually limitless potential to eliminate cancer from the human body.

The key limiting factor that has prevented chemotherapy from being the wonder drug that could all but cure cancer has been its horrific side effects. Chemotherapeutic agents have long suffered from one of the narrowest therapeutic windows of any drug. This means that the amount of drug necessary to start seeing clinically significant effects is hardly any less than the amount that causes severe overdose. For this reason, the drug has always been required to be administered by trained medical professionals and the amount given at any one time has been strictly limited.

Among the horrible side effects of chemotherapy include hair loss, constant nausea, lack of energy and, in severe cases, even death. Because of the severity and frequency of these side effects, it has long been the goal of medical researchers to create a means of delivering chemotherapy that would not induce such a heavy toll on the bodies of patients. If such a method could be found, at least in theory, it may become possible to be able to administer sufficient amounts of cytotoxic agent to completely eliminate malignant tissues from the body.

One solution that has been found to this problem has come from Seattle Genetics, the firm founded by star researcher Clay Siegall. Dr. Siegall’s main contribution to medicine has been the development of a class of targeted cancer therapy drugs known as antibody drug conjugates. These innovative drugs use synthetic human antibodies as a vehicle to deliver highly lethal cytotoxins directly to the site of malignant tissues, thereby reducing or even eliminating the systemic release of poisons into the bloodstream.

This novel approach has allowed for the dramatic increase in the therapeutic window, by orders of magnitude.