In the middle of the last century, there was a gigantic explosion of progress made within the cancer treatment field. Diseases such as lung cancer and prostate cancer, which had once been considered fatal, suddenly became largely treatable. This allowed tens of thousands of people who would have otherwise died to continue living long and healthy lives.
Although some forms of cancer continue to see great strides made in their treatment throughout the ensuing decades, many stagnated in the face of a lack of innovation in their treatment. Some cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma saw very little progress between the years of 1960 and 2010. Some of these cancers were largely ignored by researchers due to the fact that they either affected few people, were viewed as not being particularly serious or were notoriously difficult for medicine to make any strides and fighting.
This was the case with regard to non-Hodgkins lymphoma in the late 1990s. It was for this reason that one of the nation’s most famous cancer researchers, Clay Siegall, decided to focus solely on this disease for his first marketable product derived from his own innovative cancer treatment technology called antibody drug conjugates.
Antibody drug conjugates were a completely new kind of cancer treatment, formed by taking clones of human antibodies and through an extremely complex, proprietary process binding those to lethal cytotoxins, which can be delivered directly to the site of the malignancy. This novel method, with proven effectiveness, could be theoretically applied to any type of cancer. But Dr. Siegall chose to focus on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma due to the almost complete lack of progress made in the treatment of that disease and its mortality improvement over the preceding four decades.
In 2011, Seattle Genetics became the first company in the world to have an FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate that was able to be marketed to the general public. ADCetris is approved for use in refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as a second-line treatment. However, ongoing trials are being conducted right now, which will likely lead to the drug being approved for many other uses, including mainline treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancer types.
Seattle Genetics has also developed many other proprietary processes and intellectual property, including 20 other drugs that are currently in the development pipeline and dozens of patents and licenses granted to other pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Under Dr. Siegall’s leadership, the company continues to save lives.