Advances in the treatment of cancer have been remarkable in the past decade. For many cancer types, chemotherapy remains the standard of care. The problem is that chemotherapy is delivered in a way that damages not only cancer cells but also healthy ones.
A deepening understanding of the biology of tumors has given rise to new compounds that target specific tumors at the molecular level. That, combined with innovative technologies to deliver those drugs, aims to reduce the impact of chemotherapy on healthy cells.
The pursuit of more targeted therapies includes the development of antibody drug conjugates (ADCs), a platform AbbVie has been working to advance with partner Seattle Genetics since 2011.
“Antibodies are very targeted molecules, and each binds to a specific protein in the body,” says Jochen Salfeld, Ph.D., vice president of global biologics discovery, based at the AbbVie Bioresearch Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. “The goal with antibody drug conjugates is to deliver a medicine to diseased tissue in a precise way that does not damage the healthy tissue.”
An increased understanding of tumor biology allows researchers to explore new ways to target cancer cells by combining toxins with antibodies.