Antibody-Drug Conjugates-A Tutorial Review

Molecules. 2021 May 15;26(10):2943. doi: 10.3390/molecules26102943.


Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are a family of targeted therapeutic agents for the treatment of cancer. ADC development is a rapidly expanding field of research, with over 80 ADCs currently in clinical development and eleven ADCs (nine containing small-molecule payloads and two with biological toxins) approved for use by the FDA. Compared to traditional small-molecule approaches, ADCs offer enhanced targeting of cancer cells along with reduced toxic side effects, making them an attractive prospect in the field of oncology. To this end, this tutorial review aims to serve as a reference material for ADCs and give readers a comprehensive understanding of ADCs; it explores and explains each ADC component (monoclonal antibody, linker moiety and cytotoxic payload) individually, highlights several EMA- and FDA-approved ADCs by way of case studies and offers a brief future perspective on the field of ADC research.

Keywords: ADC; antibody–drug conjugate; cytotoxic payload; linker; monoclonal antibody; tutorial review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Approval
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates / chemistry
  • Immunoconjugates / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Immunoconjugates