What are ADCs?

Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) represent an emerging drug modality, consisting of several elements, that together enable directing anticancer therapeutics to malignant cells overexpressing particular surface target molecules

An antibody directed against such an antigen overexpressed on cancer cells enables cancer specificity.

A highly cytotoxic payload is attached to the antibody. The attachment is achieved by using a s so-called linker that enables molecular stability when in circulation, as well as the selective release of the cytotoxic payload once the ADC is inside the target cells.

The payload release will effectively kill the cancer cell from the inside. Several payload classes with different MoAs have been clinically established for this purpose. Similarly, different linker and conjugation strategies exist.

By optimally combining the antibody/payload/linker elements an ADC emerges with the potential to effectively kill cancer cells overexpressing the target antigen of interest while exhibiting limited toxicity towards normal tissue.

10+ ADCs are now in routine clinical use for cancer patients, with many more novel ADC assets currently investigated in clinical studies in solid tumors and hematologic malignancies.