Over the last three decades, one of the most exciting developments in the field of cancer research has been the introduction of so-called precision medicine. Although these new categories of techniques have touched the entire medical industry, with cancer research, in particular, they hold the promised of being able to make real strides in various disease types that have not seen significant improvements in mortality over the last few decades.
No one is more important in this fight against cancer through the use of new precision medicine techniques then Clay Siegall. After having founded biotech giant Seattle Genetics, Dr. Siegall has done more than perhaps any other person alive in the creation of new forms of targeted cancer therapies. Through his creation of the completely novel class of drugs known as antibody drug conjugates, Dr. Siegall has enabled patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to live longer and more healthier lives than ever before. Seattle Genetics also has dozens of other antibody drug conjugates in the development pipeline, potentially creating the groundwork for a massive revolution in the way that cancer is treated.
The idea for precision medicine, particularly as it is apply to cancer treatment, has been around for a very long time. But throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, new techniques were developed that allowed for the actual implementation of some of the precision medicine concepts that proved more difficult to implement in prior decades. Things such as the advent of highly precise techniques of molecular and biological engineering have enabled for the creation of such crucial bio-technologies as synthetic antibodies and the capability to bind cytotoxins directly to a variety of organic molecules.
It is these latter technologies that have enabled the development and implementation of antibody drug conjugates. As a senior research of working for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall was able to harness the power of the mammalian body to produce antibodies that naturally seek out and bind to the site of malignant tissues. His crucial insight was the idea that these natural heat-seeking missiles would be able to carry a lethal payload of cytotoxins directly to the site of the tumor, potentially eliminating all side effects associated with older chemotherapeutic drug types.