Despite the huge gains that the advent of chemotherapy has given to those patients suffering from cancer, for the last 50 years, the main question plaguing the cancer research industry has been how to enable cancer drugs to be given in higher dosages. The truth is that most cancer types always remain responsive to chemotherapy. The problem arises in the fact that patients simply cannot be safely administered sufficient levels of chemotherapy to allow for clinically significant effects on the tumors.
In theory, this problem could be eliminated by means that would allow for the direct targeting of malignant tissues. This is the main impetus that has led to the creation of a class of drugs known as targeted cancer therapies. These drugs seek to directly attack the tumor tissues, sparing other healthy tissues within the body. This allows for dramatically more chemotherapeutic agent to be administered to the patient at any given time, potentially eliminating the problem of tumors becoming resistant to the low dosages of chemotherapy that can currently be safely administered to patients.
One of the main figures in this fight to develop targeted cancer therapy has been a man by the name of Clay Siegall. As CEO of his own start up, Seattle Genetics, Clay Siegall has dedicated his company and resources to development of a particular class of targeted cancer therapy that’s known as antibody drug conjugates. This innovative class of drugs uses synthetic human antibodies as a sort of missile to develop to highly lethal payload of cytotoxic chemicals directly to the site of tumors, thereby eliminating the widespread systemic release of poisonous chemicals into the bloodstream and reducing the severity of side effects by orders of magnitude.
By doing this, Dr. Siegall has created a vastly larger therapeutic window. This is the term that doctors use to refer to the dosages between which a drug first starts to manifest clinically significant effects and below which the patient is at risk of dying from overdose. With chemotherapy, the therapeutic window has traditionally been exquisitely narrow. But through the hard work of Dr. Siegall, the therapeutic window is now as wide as the Mississippi River.