One of the main problems associated with chemotherapy has always been the numerous and severe side effects caused by its administration. Because of the fact that chemotherapy is necessarily infused directly into the bloodstream of the patient, there’s no way to avoid the large-scale systemic effects of this highly lethal poison being distributed throughout the body. Things such as the loss of hair, wrinkling of skin and the induction of dementia are all horrible side effects that people undergoing chemotherapy must, at some point, endure.
These terrible properties of traditional chemotherapeutic regimens were what led to the development of a broad class of drugs known as targeted cancer therapies. These first started being researched throughout the late 80s and early 1990s, with many new types of mechanisms by which these drugs could work being formulated throughout that time.
No single person was more instrumental in the development of the highly effective new forms of targeted cancer therapy that we now enjoy today than Clay Siegall. After having spent four years with the National Cancer Institute and 10 additional years with pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall became one of the nation’s leading researchers into targeted cancer therapies. He first began synthesizing a new class of drugs known as antibody drug conjugates throughout the mid-1990s. These drugs utilized synthetic human antibodies in order to deliver a highly lethal cytotoxin directly to the site of malignancies, potentially reducing or even eliminating entirely the horrible side effects associated with older forms of chemotherapy.
The ability to deliver cytotoxic chemicals directly to the side of tumors also dramatically increase the ability of doctors to administer large dosages of these poisons to the patient. This is due to the fact that the cytotoxins were not systemically released into the bloodstream, thus much attenuating the horrible side effects and potentially lethal outcomes of large doses of poisonous chemotherapies.
By 1998, Dr. Clay Siegall had decided to found his own firm. Now known as Seattle Genetics, it is the first biotech company dedicated completely to the research and development of antibody drug conjugates.