FRANKFURT (Reuters) – A class of treatments known as antibody-drug conjugates (ADC) combine cancer-tracking proteins with powerful cell toxins. The therapies are getting a fresh start as dozens of drugmakers test a record number of new compounds in people.
Nearly 20 years after the first ADC, Pfizer’s (PFE.N) Mylotarg, was approved, developers say they are now getting a handle on the technology that was long seen as an elegant concept, but one that presented many clinical challenges.
Antibodies such as Roche’s (ROG.S) top-selling Herceptin have been a mainstay of modern medicine because these immune proteins can be engineered to bind to cancer cells, where they interfere with growth.
With ADCs, drugmakers go a step further and attach cytotoxic molecules to antibodies to destroy the cancer cells outright. Roche’s Kadcyla combines Herceptin with the agent mertansine (DM1).
The antibodies’ role in that combination has been described as that of a Trojan horse, carrying the…
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