Drug Developers Tap the Immune System to Supercharge ADCs


Pictured: A white blood cell charging an ADC/Taylor Tieden for BioSpace

The antibody drug conjugate market is one of the fastest growing in the pharmaceutical industry, expanding from $1 billion to $10 billion in yearly sales between 2015 to 2023—and expected to rise to $28 billion by 2028, according to Evaluate.

But despite their high level of efficacy in delivering cytotoxic payloads directly to tumor cells, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are “unfortunately not curing people,” Tim Lowinger, senior vice president and chief science and technology officer at Mersana Therapeutics, told BioSpace. There are real benefits, he said, including prolonged life and extended progression-free survival, yet reemergence occurs.

With 15 ADCs approved as of February 2024 and many more in company pipelines, drug developers are expanding their focus to ask how they can build on the success of ADCs. Enter immunostimulatory ADCs (iADCs), sometimes called…
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