The Rising Popularity of Antibody-Drug Conjugates, with Challenges

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD          Biopharma insight

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Topics: Novel Therapeutics   
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In the current climate of global economic uncertainty, one area of pharmaceutical development is bucking the trend with a significant surge in activity: the field of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). This class of drugs is gaining increasing interest from major pharmaceutical companies, as evidenced by a series of high-profile deals and partnerships.

How does an antibody-drug conjugate work?

An antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) works as a targeted cancer therapy by combining the specific targeting capabilities of monoclonal antibodies with the potent cell-killing effects of cytotoxic drugs. Here's how it functions:

Firstly, the monoclonal antibody component of an ADC is designed to recognize and bind to a specific antigen, typically found on the surface of cancer cells. This ensures that the ADC selectively targets cancer cells while sparing healthy cells.

Once the ADC binds to the cancer cell via the antigen, the entire complex is internalized into the cell. This is a crucial step, as it brings the cytotoxic drug into close proximity with the cancer cell.

Inside the cell, the ADC is transported to a cellular compartment called the lysosome. Here, the chemical linker connecting the antibody to the cytotoxic payload is broken down. This process releases the cytotoxic drug inside the cancer cell.

Finally, the released drug exerts its cell-killing effects, typically by interfering with vital cellular processes such as DNA replication, ultimately leading to the death of the cancer cell.

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Topics: Novel Therapeutics   

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