The field of antibody drug conjugates has long held promise and is generating more and more excitement but, so far, has actually delivered little in terms of products on the market. As such, broad backing for Seattle Genetics’ Adcetris yesterday from FDA advisors is an encouraging sign for a new generation of compounds moving through the clinic (Panel backs Adcetris but keeps leash short, July 15, 2011).
Using an antibody to target a tumour and deliver radiotherapy or a cytotoxic agent is not a particularly new idea, but researchers have struggled to produce the sort of clinical outcomes many have predicted for this field. Behind Adcetris are a handful of promising agents, most notably T-DM1 from Roche and ImmunoGen, viewed as a follow-on product for Herceptin. But with most agents still only in mid-stage trials and earlier, it seems the field still has some way to travel to deliver on its promise (see tables below).