After about 25 years of development, antibody-drug conjugates have gained acceptance as a validated approach to the targeted killing of cells, with two drugs approved in the past two years. While Seattle Genetics Inc. and ImmunoGen Inc. have owned the space, a variety of biotechs are developing next-generation ADCs that seek to improve the technology and broaden its scope beyond cancer to inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

These advances include producing a more homogeneous drug product and delivering more potent payloads that move beyond the delivery of blunt, cytotoxic agents. Other approaches include developing ADCs as a delivery system for targeted small molecules.