Antibody drug conjugates and bispecifics seize the spotlight at ASCO 2022

As part of our Drugs to Watch series, our team of oncology experts pored over thousands of abstracts for presentations at this year’s just-concluded American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. One trend stood out clearly: the prominence of innovative treatments, including antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) and bispecific antibodies.

ADCs and bispecifics aren’t new. A dozen ADCs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or European Medicines Agency in the last two decades for oncology indications, along with three bispecifics. However, the pace of regulatory approvals has accelerated in the last three years.

The pipeline is now bursting with promising candidates that are poised to propel these innovative treatments to improve outcomes in oncology. For example, ENHERTU, an ADC from Daiichi Sankyo and AstraZeneca, is using the results of a phase 3 trial to continue their work on expanding HER2-targeted therapy to HER2-low patients. Their trial, dubbed DESTINY BREAST04, is likely to redefine how breast cancer is classified.

Of course, ADCs and bispecifics weren’t the only treatment modalities that popped at this year’s conference. In fact, it was a very small trial of an old-fashioned anti-PD-1 mononoclonal antibody, dostarlimab (AKA Jemperli), that garnered most of the headlines outside of the specialty titles. Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center reported that all 14 rectal cancer patients in a phase 2 study saw a complete response, giving hope that immunotherapy alone, in the absence of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, might one day be sufficient to treat some cancers.

Jemperli, developed by GlaxoSmithKline, has been marketed in the U.S. since April, 2021 for treatment of endometrial cancer and certain solid tumors. It targets mismatch repair deficiency, a biomarker seen in 25-30% of patients with endometrial cancer.

As we highlight in our report on this year’s key developments at ASCO, data for approved drugs in alternative patient segments was a recurrent feature. This signifies the growth potential of marketed drugs in established marketplaces and the complexity of oncology treatment paradigms. Increasingly, it’s not just about new therapies — it’s also about understanding how we can best use existing therapies.

Ten developments to watch

Here are the ten standout developments from the conference identified by Clarivate oncology experts:

  1. ENHERTU demonstrated unprecedented survival outcomes in the untapped setting of HER2-low metastatic breast cancer
  2. TRODELVY® met its primary endpoint of PFS in heavily pretreated HR+ / HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer
  3. Rubraca aims to be the third poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor for first-line maintenance treatment of advanced ovarian cancer
  4. Roche’s anti-TIGIT agent tiragolumab failed in untreated, extensive-stage small cell lung cancer
  5. ADCETRIS® momentum continued with improved OS in frontline advanced classical Hodgkin lymphoma
  6. IMBRUVICA plus chemoimmunotherapy delays disease progression in elderly patients newly diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma
  7. Glofitamab, a bispecific antibody, showed encouraging clinical benefits in heavily pretreated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  8. Bispecific antibodies demonstrated promising activity in heavily pretreated multiple myeloma
  9. Mirati’s KRAS inhibitor adagrasib is active in previously treated KRAS G12C-mutant NSCLC
  10. Favezelimab (anti-LAG-3) plus KEYTRUDA® (anti-PD-1) showed antitumor activity in R/R cHL


In addition, the team, together with our China In-Depth analysts, identified five abstracts likely to impact the fast-growing Mainland China market. To learn more, check out our report, Oncology Drugs to Watch: Top 15 takeaways from ASCO 2022.


About the author
Dr . Rachel Webster leads the production of syndicated primary and secondary market research reports and custom analysis of a wide range of oncology indications. She also provides sales and client support, helping biopharmaceutical companies uncover strategic opportunities through data-driven insights. Rachel has more than a decade of experience in market forecasting and a broad knowledge of oncology indications and markets. She has a particular interest and expertise in immuno-oncology and received her doctorate from the University of Oxford.