Antibody-Drug Conjugates: Patient and Treatment Selection

Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2020 Mar;40:1-10. doi: 10.1200/EDBK_280775.


Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are a promising drug platform designed to enhance the therapeutic index and minimize the toxicity of anticancer agents. ADCs have experienced substantial progress and technological growth over the past decades; however, several challenges to patient selection and treatment remain. Methods to optimally capture all patients who may benefit from a particular ADC are still largely unknown. Although target antigen expression remains a biomarker for patient selection, the impact of intratumor heterogeneity on antigen expression, as well as the dynamic changes in expression with treatment and disease progression, are important considerations in patient selection. Better understanding of these factors, as well as minimum levels of target antigen expression required to achieve therapeutic efficacy, will enable further optimization of selection strategies. Other important considerations include understanding mechanisms of primary and acquired resistance to ADCs. Ongoing efforts in the design of its constituent parts to possess the intrinsic ability to overcome these mechanisms, including use of the "bystander effect" to enhance efficacy in heterogeneous or low target antigen-expressing tumors, as well as modulation of the chemical and immunophenotypic properties of antibodies and linker molecules to improve payload sensitivity and therapeutic efficacy, are under way. These strategies may also lead to improved safety profiles. Similarly, combination strategies using ADCs with other cytotoxic or immunomodulatory agents are also under development. Great strides have been made in ADC technology. With further refinements, this therapeutic modality has the potential to make an important clinical impact on a wider range of tumor types.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Selection*


  • Immunoconjugates