When Clay Siegall was still in college, a close family member became ill with cancer. Throughout the family member’s ordeal, they were given the traditional regimen of chemotherapy, a highly lethal poison that is directly administered into the bloodstream, causing widespread secondary effects. When the family member developed a severe case of anemia and nearly died as a direct result of the drugs being given to cure the cancer, Dr. Siegall decided that he would like to spend his career dedicated to the research of better ways to fight this terrible disease.
After receiving an MS from the University of Maryland in biology and a PhD in genetics from George Washington University, Dr. Clay Siegall was hired by the National Cancer Institute, one of the most prestigious cancer research organizations in the world. Over the course of the next four years, Dr. Siegall worked on a number of projects. One of these was a specific type of targeted cancer therapy idea that would use human antibodies as a means to deliver to lethal cytotoxin directly to the surface of tumor cells. The idea behind this delivery mechanism was that it would completely eliminate the need to systemically release large amounts of poison into the patient’s bloodstream, thereby dramatically reducing the side effects associated with traditional chemotherapeutic regimens.
Eventually, Dr. Siegall, who had proven himself to be a star researcher at the National Cancer Institute, was hired by Bristol-Myers Squibb, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. While there, Dr. Siegall led a team of researchers, developing some of the most innovative drug types of that ever been seen in the cancer research space. It was at this point that Dr. Siegall first coined the term antibody drug conjugates, a type of drug that uses synthetic human antibodies as the means to deliver chemotherapeutic agent directly to malignant tissues.
Over the next 10 years, Dr. Siegall continued working on this exciting new form of drugs. Eventually, he was able to effect the synthesis of artificial human antibodies through the use of an ingenious cloning process that he had created himself, which used live rodents to create molecular templates for synthetic human antibodies.