Despite the remarkable gains made in the survivability of many types of cancer throughout the 20th century, throughout the latter half of the 20th century and into the 2000s, many types of cancer have seen a deep stagnation in the improvement of their survival rates. Nowhere has this been truer than in the case of cancer types such as pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
One man, Clay Siegall, is doing all he can to bring new forms of revolutionary treatment to some of these under-researched and undertreated cancer types. After founding Seattle Genetics, the only pharmaceutical giant solely dedicated to the creation of a new class of drugs known as antibody drug conjugates, Dr. Siegall made it known that his chief strategy would be to go after undertreated and under-researched cancer types, potentially adding large incremental gains to the survivability of cancers that have not seen major improvements over the last 20 to 30 years.
Throughout the 2000s, Seattle Genetics began developing a class of drugs that would fight against refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Due to a number of factors, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had been largely ignored by the medical research community over the preceding 30 years. The disease is often not nearly as deadly as some other types of cancer. However, it is still a very real malignancy and eventually takes the life of up to half of the people who have it. For this reason and many others, it was not considered a top priority.
But Dr. Siegall began creating the first treatment to markedly improve the survivability of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in years. Known as ADCetris, this remarkable antibody drug conjugate has been FDA-approved for the broad scale use in refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leading to thousands of lives having been saved and proving the concept of antibody drug conjugates in general.
ADCetris also has a number of off-label uses that are currently in phase-three FDA trials, which may lead to the eventual approval of this drug for dozens of other off-label uses. Through efforts like these, Seattle Genetics is making real progress in reducing the mortality rates of many different types of cancer, saving lives and potentially leading to an eventual cure.