Over the last 30 years, few people have made such an indelible mark on the field of cancer research as Clay Siegall. After having pursued a career as a senior researcher with pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb for more than a decade, Dr. Siegall finally decided to break off on his own, founding Seattle Genetics, the only pharmaceutical company dedicated solely to the production of antibody drug conjugates.
While working as a researcher for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dr. Siegall and his team began developing a highly innovative class of drugs known as antibody drug conjugates. These were a form of targeted cancer therapy that used human antibodies as a means to deliver highly lethal cytotoxins directly to the site of malignant tissues. This obviated the need for widespread systemic release of extremely deadly chemotherapeutic agents, thereby radically diminishing the potential for the horrific side effects that are so common with traditional chemotherapy regimes.
It was with the idea of producing these drugs on a large scale that Seattle Genetics was founded in 1998. With only a few million dollars in venture capital and a skeletal crew of researchers, Dr. Siegall was able to quickly begin building his company into a powerhouse of biotech research and development. By the year 2001, Seattle Genetics had already developed a number of patents and intellectual processes and was ready to make an initial public offering.
The IPO proved to be the largest in biotech history, netting over $1.2 billion in funding. This money allowed it to continue developing its portfolio of highly innovative drugs over the next 10 years. By 2011, Seattle Genetics had secured the first FDA approval for an antibody drug conjugate, ADCetris. This all new drug was approved for use in refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a disease that had not seen significant mortality improvements in more than 30 years.
Today, ADCetris is saving thousands of lives each year. And Seattle Genetics has many drugs in the development pipeline as well as current drugs that it expects will be approved for different uses. Dr. Siegall continues to lead his firm with talent and vision, ensuring that the company will be profitable into the long-term future.