New Rochelle, NY, December 10, 2012—Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) constitute a niche market, but hold the promise of carving out significant revenues, particularly in oncology, reports Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN). In development since the 1980s, these tightly targeted molecules are the subject of renewed interest, driven by the development of new linkers, improved cytotoxic payloads, and their ability to reduce side effects, according to a recent issue of GEN.

“Although a good deal of progress has been made in the treatment of cancer, new and, specifically, more targeted therapies are still needed,” says John Sterling, editor-in-chief of GEN. “Antibody-drug conjugates look like they can fit the bill because they can direct the delivery of strong cytotoxic drugs to where they need to go in the body.”

ADC development is dominated by major oncology players in multiple collaborations with smaller firms. A number of companies are already in Phase I development and many others are carrying out preclinical studies. For example, Immunomedics has a Phase I/II trial in multiple myeloma using a doxorubicin conjugate of milatuzumab, as well as other agents in development for colorectal, breast, ovary, lung, and pancreatic cancers. Helix Biopharma is developing L-DOS47 against non-small-cell lung cancer. It uses the plant enzyme urease to hydrolyze urea, thereby generating ammonia at the site of the tumor cell, disrupting it.

Other companies in the GEN article include Ambryx Biotechnology, Spirogen, ADC Therapeutics, Mersana Therapeutics, Seattle Genetics, Roche/Genentech, ImmunoGen, and Pfizer.

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