Design of next generation antibody drug conjugates

Gui Dong Zhu, Yang Xin Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Chemtherapy remains one of the major tools, along with surgery, radiotherapy, and more recently targeted therapy, in the war against cancer. There have appeared a plethora of highly potent cytotoxic drugs but the poor discriminability between cancerous and healthy cells of these agents limits their broader application in clinical settings. Therapeutic antibodies have emerged as an important class of biological anticancer agents, thanks to their ability in specific binding to tumor-associated antigens. While this important class of biologies can be used as single agents for the treatment of cancer through antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity (ADCC), their therapeutical efficacy is often limited. Antitumor antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) combine the target-specificity of monoclonal antibody (mAb) and the highly active cell-killing drugs, taking advantages of the best characteristics out of both components. Thus, insufficiency of most naked mAbs in cancer therapy has been circumvented by arming the immunoglobulin with cytotoxic drugs. Here mAbs are used as vehicles to transport potent payloads to tumor cells. ADCs contain three main components: antibody, linker and cytotoxics (also frequently referred as payload). Antibodies can recognize and specifically bind to the tumor-specific antigens, leading to an antibody-assisted internalization, and payload release. While ADC has demonstrated tremendous success, a number of practical challenges limit the broader applications of this new class of anticancer therapy, including inefficient cellular uptake, low cytotoxicity, and off-target effects. This review article aims to cover recent advances in optimizing linkers with increased stability in circulation while allowing efficient payload release within tumor cells. We also attempt to provide some practical strategies in resolving the current challenges in this attractive research area, particularly to those new to the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1070
Number of pages18
JournalYaoxue Xuebao
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 12 2013


  • Antibody
  • Antibody drug conjugate
  • Linker
  • Payload

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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