For anyone who has watched a loved one go through cancer treatment, one of the most obviously horrific aspects of the process are the terrible side effects that people must endure when taking chemotherapeutic agents. Between the loss of hair, constant nausea and risk of death from the drugs themselves, chemotherapy marks one of the most brutal treatments of any disease currently in existence.
For as long as chemotherapy has existed, researchers have attempted to find ways to reduce the horrible side effects associated with this life-saving drug. One of the ways in which it has long been hypothesized that this may be possible is through the direct targeting of malignant tissues instead of systemically releasing large amounts of poison into the bloodstream. The problem with systemic release of chemotherapy, the form of administering the drug that has been traditionally been used in almost all types of cancer treatment, is that the drugs target all fast-reproducing cell types, including healthy cells that are necessary for the normal function of the body.
But one company, Seattle Genetics, led by CEO Clay Siegall, has developed a class of drugs that have actually been able to realize this dream of researchers. Seattle Genetics’ main drug, ADCetris, is an antibody drug conjugate that is capable of delivering highly lethal cytotoxins directly to the site of malignant tumors, therefore, nearly completely eliminating the side effects associated with traditional chemotherapeutic regimes.
This is a highly novel and unprecedented type of drug. In 2011, Seattle Genetics was given FDA approval for the full use of ADCetris on the open market, thereby enabling the drug to be given to the public at-large for the treatment of refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The drug has roundly proven itself, providing one of the first mortality decreases for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that the disease has seen in more than 30 years.
The astounding success of this drug has made Dr. Clay Siegall and nearly household name, at least among those interested in the biotech space. Dr. Siegall believes his company will receive FDA approval on up to a dozen new drugs over the next five years.