Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, a new form of cancer therapy research began emerging. This was known as targeted cancer therapies, a class of drugs that would be capable of dramatically reducing the side effects of traditional chemotherapy while simultaneously increasing the amount of the drugs that could safely be administered to a patient at any given time.
One of the central figures in this new school of cancer therapy research was a man named Clay Siegall. After having graduated with an MS from the University of Maryland in biology and a PhD in genetics from George Washington University, Dr. Siegall with hired by the National Cancer Institute as a researcher. Over the course of his four years there and subsequent career at Bristol-Myers Squibb, spanning more than a decade, Dr. Siegall began working on an exciting new class of targeted cancer therapy drugs known as antibody drug conjugates. These new drugs used synthetic human antibodies as a means to deliver highly lethal cytotoxins directly this site of malignant tumors, that’s reducing any chance of systemic release of these highly lethal poisons into the bloodstream.
In theory, these new drugs would have the potential to nearly completely eliminate all of the side effects associated with old-style chemotherapies. After working on the development of these drugs for a period of almost a decade, Dr. Siegall decided to branch off on to his own. In 1998, he formed Seattle Genetics, the first biotech firm dedicated solely to the production and development of antibody drug conjugates. Over the course of the next 15 years, Dr. Siegall led his firm to create dozens of unique drugs based on the antibody drug conjugate concept.
By 2011, Dr. Siegall had managed to get Seattle Genetics its first FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate, ADCetris. In fact, this is the first FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate that has ever been made available to the general market. ADCetris has been approved for use in refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has proven itself and the concept of ADCs in general. The drug has been saving thousands of lives a year, and it is made Dr. Siegall a living legend in the biopharmaceutical space.