Clay Siegall Talks Recent Innovations In Cancer Testing


One of the biggest problems today is that health professionals lack technology for early detection of some types of cancer. The Affordable Care Act made it easier for people to access screenings regardless of their income. As Clay Siegall says, many people still do not take advantage of those, and participating in screenings is not a surefire way to avoid getting cancer. Fortunately, technology is producing ways to make early detection easier for some of the deadliest types of cancer. Also, new innovations are improving targeted treatments.

Earlier Prostate Cancer Detection

According to the government’s official cancer statistics page, about 11 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in life. If prostate cancer does not spread to other parts of the body, the survival rate is over 90 percent. However, about 30 percent of men with metastatic prostate cancer die. Radboud MC is a teaching hospital in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and researchers there found a way to diagnose prostate cancer quicker. The standard process takes several months, which puts men at risk for their cancer spreading to other bodily regions. With the new method, a diagnosis can be reached within two weeks. The researchers used an MRI scan to detect prostate changes in patients, and they took tissue samples if an MRI was not perfect. The results were available within a week. In addition to being faster, this method is cheaper than the current common testing process.

Recurrent Bladder Cancer Detection

Although bladder cancer fatalities have dropped by about 20 percent since the 1970s, it still claims many lives. It often goes undetected until it has spread. Most of the people who develop bladder cancer are over the age of 55. For those whose have battled bladder cancer and survived, there is a high possibility that the cancer will return. British researchers recently found a simple way to test for recurrent bladder cancer using urine sampling. They tested the urine of bladder cancer patients for the faulty TERT protein, which is present when there is an impending or existing relapse. In a previous study, the protein successfully predicted the return of bladder cancer in 80 percent of the participants. Currently, the standard test for predicting recurring bladder cancer is cytology, and it is only effective in about 35 percent of cases. The cytology test requires human observation of cultures using a microscope. However, the TERT test utilizes a machine that is quicker and more accurate.

The Whole Genome Sequencing Push

Some oncologists and hospitals are conducting extensive DNA testing on cancer patients today. They call it whole genome sequencing or WGS, and a medical authority in the United Kingdom is pushing to have WGS become as common as biopsies and blood tests for cancer patients. There are about 20,000 genes in a person. Those tiny DNA fragments are responsible for dictating how a person’s body works. If there are mutations or errors, the disruptions in the sequence can lead to a serious health issue such as a genetic form of cancer. Although some errors are hereditary, others develop over time. With WGS testing, researchers hope to pinpoint errors to better understand how to treat a specific form of cancer.

There are databases that collect genome sequencing information for cancer patients and match their data to similar profiles. Doctors can see which treatments worked best for people with similar profiles and the same type of cancer, and that helps them form more effective action plans before starting initial treatments. With WGS testing, doctors can provide a quicker diagnosis. Since most cancers that end in death do so because they were detected at a later stage, the early detection element could save lives and billions of dollars in cancer treatment costs across the world. WGS also benefits people with rare non-cancerous diseases and can help researchers develop better treatments. Researchers are already using the testing to advance treatment protocols for various strains of tuberculosis.

About Clay Siegall

Clay Siegall earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Maryland and a doctoral degree in genetics from George Washington University. In 2013, Ernst & Young gave him the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He serves on several boards for pharmaceutical and therapeutic organizations. Siegall co-founded Seattle Genetics in 1998 and serves as the CEO. In his training and research, Siegall focused on targeted cancer therapies. Seattle Genetics strives to be a leader in innovation, drug development and research. One of the most important core values of the company is to employ people who have a passion for helping cancer patients. Siegall has helped develop cancer antibody drug conjugates. This put his company in a position of leadership.

Siegall has successfully led Seattle Genetics to acquire strategic licenses to further its ADC developments. These affiliations include companies such as AbbVie, Genetech, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. The companies have brought in over $300 million. Current clinical developments include over 20 ADCs that utilize the innovative technology of Seattle Genetics. Siegall is responsible for acquiring money to keep Seattle Genetics going, and he has raised over $675 million from private and public organizations. However, leadership with great responsibility is nothing new to Siegall. In the past, he worked with multiple research institutes. His desire to develop more innovative tools for oncologists to use led to the formation of Seattle Genetics.



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