For decades, the only option for cancer treatment was chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. All of these treatments had horrible side effects, often leaving the patient permanently scarred and disabled. But that all began to change in the ‘90s, when a number of new types of drugs and cancer treatments started coming on the scene. This new generation of cancer treatment, broadly referred to as targeted cancer therapy, promised to drastically improve the efficacy of treatments and reduce side effects dramatically.
One of the key figures in the development and introduction of this new class of drugs is a man named Clay Siegall. Dr. Siegall has a long history as a cancer researcher. With an MS from the University of Maryland in biology as well as a PhD in genetics from George Washington University, he had worked for over 15 years for a string of research firms, including the National Cancer Institute and Bristol-Myers Squibb. He was working as a senior researcher at the latter firm, when he decided to strike out on his own, working on the development of an all new class of targeted cancer therapy known as antibody drug conjugates.
in 1998, Dr. Siegall founded Seattle Genetics, the first company dedicated solely to the development of antibody drug conjugates. With only a few million dollars in venture capital, Dr. Siegall began working feverishly with just a skeletal crew of researchers and office staff. But he quickly grew the company into a multi-billion-dollar firm, having one of the largest IPOs in biotech history in 2001. Over the next 10 years, Seattle Genetics would go on to develop nearly 20 different antibody drug conjugate product lines. They also developed a large number of proprietary processes for the synthesis of a large number of antibody drug conjugate drugs and other types of cancer treatments.
In 2011, Seattle Genetics had its first FDA approval. The drug called ADCetris was approved by the FDA for the treatment of refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This was a truly game-changing development in the treatment of that disease. ADCetris went on to save thousands of lives, giving those with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma who had tried all other treatments and we’re unresponsive to them and new lease on life.