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Beyond the ABCs of ADCs

October 28, 2011
The recent FDA approval of Seattle Genetics’ antibody, Adcetris, has cast the spotlight on Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADC), leaving experts to contemplate whether this is the peak for ADCs. If history has its say though, the spotlight won’t be flickering anytime soon. Experts in this specialized antibody field discussed the latest developments and lessons of bringing ADCs through the clinic at this week’s 10th Annual BIO Investor Forum.

Antibody drug conjugates hold enormous potential for treating and curing life-threatening diseases, but unlocking that potential is proving extraordinarily complicated for companies in the space.

“Everything must work in harmony – from appropriate targets to antibodies to payloads – it’s an enormous challenge,” said Juan Harrison, Vice President of Takeda Ventures.

Panelists seemed to agree that the main issue is time, since there are so many factors that must work in concert together, including pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, expression and internalization. Further complicating the situation, setbacks can be frequent and unavoidable. Despite the complexity, panelists agreed that the potential of ADCs for oncology is promising.

“There is a lot to learn, but the activity we’re seeing is very positive,” said Mark R. Baker, CEO of Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Currently, there are at least 20 ADCs in clinical development, according to Clinical Cancer Research. As R&D progresses in labs, opportunities to learn and share what is working and, perhaps more importantly, what isn’t working will result in advancing the science.

“There are many technologies maturing and we just need to put them together to get the maximum results,” said Jonathan Drachman, MD, Senior Vice President of Research and Translational Medicine at Seattle Genetics, Inc., one of the leading companies in the ADC space.

Panelists agreed that the one constant that everyone can depend on is there will always be a need for the technology, since cancer patients need and want more treatment options.

“Baby boomers want to make choices regarding their medications, and ADCs typically have low toxicity and a lower rate of adverse events,” said Baker.

The future looks bright for ADCs based on this overwhelming need, combined with the potential of the technology.

“There is an enormous universe of applications and components driving the future of this technology,” said Harrison.

Mike G. King, Jr., Managing Director of Rodman & Renshaw LLC moderated this session.