In the world of targeted cancer therapy, no name stands out with more authority than that of Seattle Genetics. The company was founded by one of the legends of targeted cancer therapy research, Clay Siegall, in 1998. With barely enough money in venture capital to fund a year’s worth of operations, Dr. Siegall was able to build his firm from just a skeleton crew of a few researchers into one of the most successful power houses in the biotech space that operates today.
Dr. Siegall first became interested in the ability of targeted cancer research to nearly eliminate all of the horrendous side effects associated with traditional chemotherapy regimens when he was still in college. After receiving a PhD in genetics from George Washington, he was hired on as a junior researcher with the National Cancer Institute, one of the most prestigious governmental organizations dedicated to cancer research anywhere on the globe.
During his four years at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Siegall was involved in developing cutting-edge methods of creating new forms of targeted cancer therapy that would one day be able to dramatically reduce or even entirely eliminate all of the side effects associated with chemotherapy. Due to the fact that many of these side effects were so severe that they limited the amount of drug that any patient could be administered over a given period of time, in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, developing safer cytotoxic drugs was viewed as one of the most pressing issues in the cancer research industry.
Although most of the work that Dr. Siegall did at the National Cancer Institute was theoretical in nature, he would soon get the opportunity to work on more concrete projects. After four years with the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Siegall was offered a job by one of the largest and most venerated firms in the pharmaceutical industry, Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Over the next seven years, Dr. Siegall would work at Bristol-Myers Squibb as a senior researcher. There, he led a team of highly skilled and talented research and developed one of the most innovative forms of cancer treatment that has ever been devised. He called this class of drugs antibody drug conjugates. The new drug used synthetic human antibodies to deliver highly lethal cytotoxins directly to the surface of malignant tissues within the body. This meant that there was no systemic release of the cytotoxin, leading to an almost total elimination of the associated side effects.
Today, Dr. Siegall is a legend of cancer research and his company, Seattle Genetics, continues to lead the industry.