Dr. Clay B. Siegall: Pioneer for Improved Cancer Treatments

According to Clay B. Siegall, Ph.D., the co-founder of Seattle Genetics, physicians should get into the habit of offering DNA tests to their cancer patients. Selecting the most appropriate treatments is easier and more precise when a patient takes a DNA test. Physicians need to have a more comprehensive system for sequencing genetic codes of cancer patients. Dr. Clay Siegall believes that doctors need to use genome sequencing, also referred to as WGS, as a standard method to diagnose cancer and other diseases. The human body contains approximately 20,000 genes. Each gene features a specialized DNA code offering instructions about how the body works.


Any gene containing an error or mutation, even if the mistake is extremely tiny, can ultimately cause cancer or another disease. Although these errors are occasionally due to hereditary factors, they typically occur in genes that were previously normal. WGS has the ability to compare tumors with normal DNA genes. A large number of patients benefit from the information that helps doctors diagnose their disorders with higher accuracy percentages. After a patient undergoes a DNA test, the doctor can select the best medicine for his or her specific treatment. Furthermore, WGS testing can predict which patients are less able to tolerate specific types of treatments. People who have privacy concerns do not need to worry because genetic data is stored in secure facilities. Furthermore, a patient’s identity is never revealed.


In addition to providing more useful information about genes and cancer, DNA tests can also shed light on rare disorders. Research involving gene diagnosis is on the leading edge of medicine. Some physicians are currently using DNA testing to cure various types of tuberculosis. More than a decade ago, scientists around the world achieved a dramatic discovery in DNA research. These researchers were able to sequence the complete genetic blueprint of humankind. The founding of the Human Genome Project in 1990 was a clear sign that scientists would have a library of DNA codes for future reference. Consequently, researchers started to comprehend the mysterious ways in which genes control the human body and how coding errors occur.


Eventually, physicians began to read a patient’s DNA to ascertain the person’s symptoms and the appropriate medical treatment. Today, medicine relying on the interpretation of a patient’s specific DNA genetic code is paving the way for innovative medical care. For instance, specific genes can indicate the best drug for a patient diagnosed with breast cancer. Another prediction is whether a patient’s tumor can benefit from radiotherapy. Along with the innovative and potential medical achievements due to DNA tests, scientists have recently developed a quicker way to diagnose prostate cancer.


In the past, diagnosing prostate cancer took several months. The patient needed to have an ultrasound scan and submit to a dozen different samples of his prostate tissue. Today, physicians are able to diagnose the disease within a couple of weeks. Michiel Sedelaar, a urologist with extensive experience, recently announced that the urologist of the future can conduct MRI scans to determine if cancer has progressed within the patient’s prostate gland. Plus, the physician will get quick results. In the Netherlands, a doctor will take a sample of the patient’s tissue only if the case presents a difficult diagnosis. Another benefit is that the scan is less expensive than the current test. The new scientific advance is a boon to men of Dutch descent who are more prone to prostate cancer than any other types of cancer.


Bladder cancer is also the subject of current medical research. A new test called the lomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) test can accurately predict whether a person’s bladder cancer is likely to return a second time. The new test offers more specific predictions. Cytology, the current test used for determining whether bladder cancer is likely to return, is only accurate in one third of all bladder cancer patients. Unlike the traditional cytology test that requires the physician to interpret findings with a microscope, the TERT test is interpreted by a machine. This mechanical device provides the urologist with a more definite interpretation.


In addition to predicting whether the cancer will return, the TERT test has a few other perks including the detection of bladder cancer prior to the patient complaining of any symptoms. The TERT test also has the ability to tell the difference between an ordinary urinary tract infection and bladder cancer. Although the cost of a TERT test is currently a bit higher than the cost of a cytology test, the price is likely to go down as the test becomes more popular.


Dr. Clay B. Siegall is a Co-founder and CEO of Seattle Genetics. The company, which was formed in 1998, was created based on innovative scientific trends and research. Dr. Siegall has been instrumental in the development of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) used to treat various types of cancer. The company’s ADC technology has continued to expand due to Dr. Siegall’s leadership. In addition, Dr. Siegall has been instrumental in raising millions of dollars via both private and public funding. When he was a zoology student, Dr. Siegall experienced the illness of a close family member. He was shocked when he witnessed the rapid deterioration of the person’s health. His relative became ill with a severe case of anemia that was caused by chemotherapy treatments.


It was at this point in his life when he made up his mind to discover more advanced treatments that did not have these types of serious complications. Holding an advanced degree in genetics from George Washington University, Dr. Clay Siegall is convinced that treating cancer with chemotherapy is a thing of the past. Using DNA genetic codes as guidelines ensure that cancer patients in the future will have access to medicines that are compatible with their genetic makeup. Under Dr. Siegall’s management, Seattle Genetics has progressed from a small company to a cancer research center devoted to developing new drugs offering more effective cancer treatments.