ADCs at a glance
Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are an advanced class of therapeutic agents, which combine the effects of several biological components and processes to achieve targeted drug delivery to cancer cells.
An antibody forms the ADC scaffold, and actively binds the target receptor, expressed by cancer cells, thereby mediating a targeted effect within a complex biological system such as a human patient.
A drug, in the form of a cytotoxic substance is attached to the targeting antibody, thereby arming the antibody with the ability to kill the cancer cells to which it binds.
A linker, between the antibody and drug compound, may be utilized to enable particular biological effects, such as improved solubility and stability in circulation, or mechanisms for release of the cytotoxic compound in particular intracellular compartments.
Last, but not least, a target receptor with convenient properties, and a high cancer specificity, is essential to obtain targeted, ADC mediated drug delivery to cancer cells.
ADCs are named from the process of attaching, or conjugating, a drug covalently to the antibody.
By combining antibodies with cytotoxic compounds and linkers possessing certain properties, one can obtain ADCs which are highly efficient at targeting and killing cancer cells, based on the particular characteristics of a given type of cancer.
A general overview of the mechanism of action of an ADC, is depicted in the figure below.
Each step is explained in more detail in the image slide show below.
Generally, the ADC field has been steadily growing in the recent decade, especially in the context of oncology.
The identification of novel targets, on-going development of novel linkers and payloads with improved stability and potency, and a continuously improving understanding of the mechanisms underlying successful ADC treatment, has contributed to this development.
Currently, four ADCs are approved for treatment of patients in the clinic, and around 100 new unique ADC formats combining different molecular targets and mechanisms of action, are now in clinical trials.
We therefore firmly believe that ADCs will play a key role in targeted drug delivery and personalized medicine in the future, and that our particular strategy will contribute significantly.