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Learn more about ADCs from ADC review: ADC review

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Parts of ALB Technology Limited's Antibody Drug Conjugates customers

Antibody-drug conjugates or ADCs are a new class of highly potent biopharmaceutical drugs designed as a targeted therapy for the treatment of people with cancer. ADCs are complex molecules composed of an antibody (a whole mAb or an antibody fragment such as a single-chain variable fragment [scFv]) linked, via a stable, chemical, linker with labile bonds, to a biological active cytotoxic (anticancer) payload or drug. Antibody Drug Conjugates are examples of bioconjugates and immunoconjugates.


Antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) represent a promising therapeutic approach for cancer patients by combining the antigen-targeting specificity of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with the cytotoxic potency of chemotherapeutic drugs. So, antibody-drug conjugates allow sensitive discrimination between healthy and diseased tissue. This means that, in contrast to traditional chemotherapeutic agents, antibody-drug conjugates target and attack the cancer cell so that healthy cells are less severely affected.

ADC technology has been an active area of research in recent years, resulting in a number of ADCs in development for various tumor types.The FDA approval of Adcetris® (brentuximab vedotin) in 2011 and Kadcyla® (trastuzumab emtansine or T-DM1) in 2013 has validated the idea of making “armed” antibodies, attracting a lot of attention into this field.

  • Adcetris® (brentuximab vedotin) is an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) directed to the protein CD30, which is expressed in classical Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (sALCL).
  • Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine or T-DM1) Glossary is approved to treat HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic breast cancer) after prior treatment with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and a taxane. Prior treatment could have been for the initial treatment of breast cancer or for the treatment of cancer that had spread to other parts of the body.


Although the ADC concept is quite simple, successfully designing and developing such a “smart bomb” is a complex task. The design of effective targeting agents has required substantial investigation and modification in the selection of MAbs and their targets, the types of linkers used, and the potency of the toxic agents that are delivered.


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