Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs)

Delivering highly potent cancer-killing agents directly to cancer cells via a linker attached to a targeted antibody

What are antibody drug conjugates and why are they important?

Unlike conventional chemotherapy treatments, which can damage healthy cells, antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) are targeted medicines that deliver chemotherapy agents to cancer cells.1 ADCs deliver the chemotherapy via a linker attached to a monoclonal antibody that binds to a specific target expressed on cancer cells. After binding to the target (cancer protein or receptor), the ADC releases a cytotoxic drug into the cancer cell.

The science behind ADCs

“Fully human” monoclonal antibodies (which have been engineered to carry human antibody genes) are an ideal delivery platform for ADCs.1 They are highly targeted and cell-specific, have a long circulating half-life and offer minimal immunogenicity.1 The chemical “linkers” that join together the antibodies and cytotoxic drugs are highly stable to prevent cleaving (splitting) before the ADC enters the tumour.1 The anticancer drugs (or “payloads”) penetrate the tumour and cause cell death either by damaging the DNA of cancer cells or by preventing new cancer cells from forming and spreading.1


1. Peters C, Brown S. Antibody-drug conjugates as novel anti-cancer chemotherapeutics. Biosci Rep. 2015;35(4):e00225. Published 2015 Jul 14. Available at Accessed July 2020.


Veeva ID: Z4-17129
Prepared on: July 2020