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From Anthramycin to Pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD)-Containing Antibody-drug Conjugates (ADCs)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-29
Early online date16 Nov 2016
E-pub ahead of print16 Nov 2016
PublishedDec 2016


King's Authors


The pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepines (PBDs) are a family of sequence-selective DNA minor-groove binding agents that form a covalent aminal bond between their C11-position and the C2-NH2 groups of guanine bases. The first example of a PBD monomer, the natural product anthramycin, was discovered in the 1960s, and the best known PBD dimer, SJG-136 (also known as SG2000, NSC 694501 or BN2629), was synthesized in the 1990s and has recently completed Phase II clinical trials in patients with leukaemia and ovarian cancer. More recently, PBD dimer analogues are being attached to tumor-targeting antibodies to create antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs), a number of which are now in clinical trials, with many others in pre-clinical development. This Review maps the development from anthramycin to the first PBD dimers, and then to PBD-containing ADCs, and explores both structure–activity relationships (SARs) and the biology of PBDs, and the strategies for their use as payloads for ADCs.

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