Our Science

Our technologies

Seagen science technologies

Seagen is an industry leader in ADC research and the use of this technology in the treatment of cancer. ADCs are designed to harness the targeting power of antibodies to deliver small molecule drugs to the tumor. This innovative approach to therapy offers meaningful efficacy while reducing side effects for patients.

We identify and engineer antibodies that target tumor-expressed antigens to serve as the foundation of our ADCs

  • Unlike traditional chemotherapy, antibodies specifically target certain proteins that are found on the surface of tumor cells
  • We select antibodies for our ADC technology that recognize and bind tightly to targets expressed in tumors, while limiting binding to normal tissues. In addition to providing improved specificity, antibodies also offer prolonged systemic exposure

We’re developing new classes of highly specific ADC linkers

  • The drug linker chemically attaches the small molecule payload to the antibody
  • Our drug linkers are designed to be stable in systemic circulation and preferentially release the payload inside targeted cells to limit off-target toxicity

We’re identifying novel small molecule drugs for our ADC technologies

  • Cancer-targeted drug payloads are designed to kill ADC-targeted cells upon internalization and induce an anti-tumor immune response
  • Small molecule payloads remain stable while linked to an ADC, are highly potent and specific, maintain activity in multidrug-resistant tumor cells, and induce cell death
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Seagen scientist computational biology

Sharsti Sandall, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Cancer Biology

Working on antibody–drug conjugates is sort of like a cell biologist’s best dream. You get to think about all these really complicated properties of cancer cells, starting from the tumor antigen that's expressed on the cancer cells.

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How ADCs work

How ADCs work

Seagen scientist immunology

Ryan Heiser, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Immunology

The dual potential to efficiently kill cancer cells directly, and to do it in a way that elicits highly focused immune recognition of tumors, holds enormous promise for combination with checkpoint inhibitors.

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Seagen scientist chemistry

Chris Neumann, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Chemistry

What I like about working at Seagen is that solving design challenges is not the responsibility of a single group.

At Seagen, we employ SEA technology, an approach that may improve the immune response to cancer cells. By growing our antibody-producing cells in the presence of the 2-fluorofucose sugar, we block the cellular fucosylation pathway. This creates afucosylated antibodies that can bind more tightly to an activating receptor on innate immune cells increasing receptor cross-linking and improving antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, an important antitumor immune response.6,7

Seagen scientist antibody discovery

Alyson Smith, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Immunology

In addition to our antibody–drug conjugate technology that directly delivers small molecule payloads to tumor cells, we’re also developing therapies that can empower antibodies to directly stimulate the immune system to destroy tumors.

Seagen director antibody discovery

Heather Van Epps, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Antibody Discovery

We are employing the SEA technology in multiple new ways. Our goal is to build novel therapeutics that are safe and effective for cancer patients.

Some antigen targets are expressed on normal tissue, leading to unacceptable toxicity. To overcome this challenge, Seagen has developed a novel masking technology that prevents antibody binding to antigen on normal tissues, but is cleaved selectively by proteases enriched in the tumor microenvironment. This allows the unmasked antibody to selectively bind to its antigen target in tumors but not in normal tissues.

Vivian Trang, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist, Protein Sciences

I’m most interested in using protein engineering to improve the targeting of our ADCs using novel approaches such as masking technology.

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Matt Levengood, Ph.D.

Principal Scientist, Protein Sciences

Our lead technology uses peptides that coil around each other to form a really stable structure, and this structure is what blocks the binding of the antibody to its target

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Medical information and safety

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  1. Ducry L, Stump B. Antibody-drug conjugates: linking cytotoxic payloads to monoclonal antibodies. Bioconjug Chem. 2010;21(1):5‐13.
  2. Carter P, McDonagh CF. Designer antibody-based therapeutics for oncology. AACR Education Book. 2005:147‐154.
  3. Peters C, Brown S. Antibody-drug conjugates as novel anti-cancer chemotherapeutics. Biosci Rep. 2015;35(4):e00225.
  4. Diamantis N, Banerji U. Antibody-drug conjugates—an emerging class of cancer treatment. Br J Cancer. 2016;114(4):362-367.
  5. Drachman JG, Senter PD. Antibody-drug conjugates: the chemistry behind empowering antibodies to fight cancer. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2013;2013:306‐310.
  6. Okeley NM, Alley SC, Anderson ME, et al. Development of orally active inhibitors of protein and cellular fucosylation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013;110(14):5404-5409.
  7. Field JJ, Okeley NM, Zeng W, et al. Understanding the mechanism of 2FF-induced immune modulation [abstract]. Proc Am Assoc Cancer Res. 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract 4005.