BJC Open article

British Journal of Cancer (2016) 114, 362–367. doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.435
Published online 7 January 2016

Antibody-drug conjugates—an emerging class of cancer treatment

Nikolaos Diamantis1 and Udai Banerji1

1Drug Development Unit, The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden, Downs Road, Sutton, London SM2 5PT, UK

Correspondence: Dr U Banerji, E-mail:

Received 14 July 2015; Revised 16 October 2015; Accepted 26 October 2015
Advance online publication 7 January 2016



Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are an emerging novel class of anticancer treatment agents that combines the selectivity of targeted treatment with the cytotoxic potency of chemotherapy drugs. New linker technology associated with novel highly potent cytotoxic payloads has permitted the development of more effective and safe ADCs. In recent years, two ADCs have been licensed, T-DM1 and brentuximab vedotin, and are already establishing their place in cancer treatment. A plethora of ADCs are being investigated in phases I and II trials, emerging data of which appears promising. As we deepen our understanding of what makes a successful ADC, an increasing number of ADCs will likely become viable treatment options as single agents or in combination with chemotherapy. This review will present the philosophy underlying ADCs, their main characteristics and current research developments with a focus on ADCs in solid tumours.


antibody-drug conjugate; target antigen; cytotoxic payload; linker; T-DM1; brentuximab vedotin; MMAE; resistance