Dr. Clay Siegall Espouses Landmark Cancer Treatment Therapies


Many doctors, physicians, researchers and biotech companies–including the revolutionary Seattle Genetics research facility–are now turning to antibody-assisted cancer treatments and precisely targeted cures instead of treating cancer with a cocktail of chemicals and radiation that generate risky side effects and damage the healthy tissue that patients need to recover. Cancers are among the most frightening and difficult-to-treat illnesses. Ranked as the leading cause of death and disability, cancer is actually an umbrella term that covers many different diseases. Each person faces a unique disease because cancers interact with the body’s existing cells, so each case has a custom imprint based on the victim’s genetic blueprint, medical history and current health.


As discussed by Clay Siegall, that’s why one-size-fits-all cancer treatments deliver such poor prospects for full recovery. Killing the cancerous cells kills lots of healthy tissue, and the high doses of chemo cocktails generate debilitating and dangerous side effects. Researchers, scientists and pharmaceutical developers have begun looking at targeted treatments for each patient based on his or her genetic profile. Scientists are using human antibodies to link drug-carrying cells with cancer cells to ensure that only those damaged cells receive the toxic drugs. These kinds of cancer treatments are known collectively as antibody-drug conjugates, or ADC.

Important History in the War on Cancer

It has long been known that genetic predispositions make some people more likely to develop cancer than others. A little over 10 years ago, scientists finally finished mapping the genetic blueprint of DNA in the high-profile effort known as the “Human Genome Project.” [1] That defining moment of scientific triumph generated overwhelming consequences in medicine, law and law enforcement as genetic, or DNA, testing quickly became routine.

The DNA contained in all the cells of the body constitutes the genome. Each person inherits two sets of chromosomes: one from the father and one from the mother. Each chromosome is labeled as one of four types: A, C, G and T. Genomic medicine is the study of the sequence of those letters. Small changes in the code can make someone more susceptible to cancer and other diseases. The code letters can also differentiate one type of cancer from another. Understanding the genome can help doctor devise a better treatment regimen for any given patient. Professor Dame Sally Davies of the NHS is recommending that medical facilities rapidly sequence the genome for all their patients to gain long-term treatment and diagnostic advantages. The NHS has already sequenced the generic blueprint of more than 31,000 patients. [2]

Studying the DNA code enables doctors to make faster and more accurate diagnoses of diseases and facilitates developing targeted treatments for patients–especially for victims of one of the many forms of cancer. One clear example of the diagnostic benefits of genomic medicine is diagnosing prostate cancer. In the past, this form of cancer was hard to diagnose and required blood work, biopsies, colonoscopies and ultrasound mapping. Genomic medicine has helped a Dutch hospital develop a prostate cancer test that only requires two weeks to diagnose the malignancy and begin a course of treatment. [3] The faster that any cancer is treated, the better the chances of recovery will be.

Seattle Genetics Develops Genomic Cancer Treatments

Seattle Genetics, led by Clay Siegall, is a Washington-based biotech company that’s working diligently to develop targeted ADC cancer cures. The company has already gotten FDA approval for Adcetris, an ADC treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. The company supports genomic medicine because its staff feels that targeted treatments arid the future of medicine.

Human Antibodies and Cancer-Killing Toxins

Targeted cures leverage human antibodies to connect with cancerous cells and deliver cytotoxic drugs. This approach concentrates treatment on the cells that need it instead of wasting drugs on healthy cells and tissue. This treatment approach prevents side effects and collateral damage while ensuring that out-of-control cancer cells are neutralized. That’s why ADC drugs are called conjugates–they’re made with human antibodies, linkers and cytotoxins to match each patient’s genetic profile. The benefits of these revolutionary cancer treatments include:

Limit Corollary Damage to Healthy Cells

  • Limit Corollary Damage to Healthy Cells Progress has been made in limiting damage to cells from both cancer-killing cytotoxins and radiation treatments. [4]

Focused Treatment Based on Genetics

  • Focused Treatment Based on Genetics Using compatible antibodies to deliver the payload to cancerous cells creates a precisely targeted treatment system for each patient.

Fewer Side Effects

  • Fewer Side Effects There are fewer side effects because there are fewer chemicals used in ADC treatments. The powerful cytotoxins are administered only to the cancerous cells, and fewer dangerous chemicals wind up in the circulatory system to generate complications, drug interactions, etc.

Faster Diagnoses and Treatment

  • Faster Diagnoses and Treatment Genomic mapping can identify specific strains of cancer more quickly than traditional diagnostic strategies. Dozens of new procedures are emerging–on a regular basis–to identify forms of cancer using genomes and ADC technology.

About Dr. Clay Siegall

Dr. Clay Siegall, Seattle Genetics co-founder, President and CEO, began his academic career by earning a B.S. in zoology at the University of Maryland. While in school, a relative developed cancer and struggled with the chemotherapy treatments. Dr. Siegall experienced an ah-ha moment and decided to pursue biotech development and cancer research to find targeted cures. Earning a Ph.D. in genetics from George Washington University, Dr. Siegall worked for the National Cancer Institute and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute from 1988 to 1997. In 1998, he co-founded Seattle Genetics, which often operated on a shoestring with just a few dedicated researchers in the early years before growing to become the largest biotech company in Washington.

Dr. Siegall has published articles in more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and holds 15 patents. Seattle Genetics has earned a premier position in the forefront of cancer treatment. The genomic drug Adcetris, or brentuximab vedotin, was approved by the FDA in 2011 and has triggered a pipeline of related drugs and research. Adcetris treats the rare cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which affects the lymphatic system and spreads to other areas if untreated. The success of antibody-drug composites has vaulted Seattle Genetics to the forefront of pharmaceutical companies, and the company is now valued in excess of $10 billion. Seattle Genetics also enjoys lucrative development partnerships with pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, Bayer, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline and others.


[1] Genome.gov: An Overview of the Human Genome Project


[2] Bbc.com: Chief medical officer calls for gene testing revolution


[3] Dutchnews.nl: Radboud develops quicker prostate cancer test


[4] Theguardian.com: New drug can protect healthy cells during radiotherapy



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