By Penelope M. Drake and David Rabuka, Catalent Biologics
The ADC field is in a transitional period. Older approaches to conjugate composition and dosing regimens still dominate the ADC clinical pipeline, but preclinical work is driving a rapid evolution in how we strategize to improve efficacy and reduce toxicity towards better therapeutic outcomes. These advances are largely based upon a body of investigational studies that together offer a deeper understanding of the ADME and DMPK fates of both the intact conjugate and its small molecule component. Knowing where the drug goes and how it is processed allows mechanistic connections to be drawn with commonly observed clinical toxicities. The field is also starting to consider ADC interactions with the immune system and potential synergistic therapeutic opportunities therein. In an indication of future directions for the field, antibody conjugates bearing non-cytotoxic small molecule payloads are being developed to reduce side effects associated with treatment of chronic diseases. ADCs are not a magic bullet to cure disease. However, they will increasingly become valuable therapeutic tools to improve patient outcomes across a variety of indications.