Currently a few compounds isolated from marine sources have become drugs, mainly directed towards cancer and pain. Compounds from marine sources have exquisite potencies against eukaryotic cells, as they act as protective agents against attack by predators in the marine environment. Their toxicities act as a “double-edged sword” as they are often too toxic for direct use in humans and thus have to be chemically modified. By linking suitably modified compounds to monoclonal antibodies directed against specific epitopes in mammalian cancer cells, they can be delivered to a specific cell type in humans. This review updates and extends an article published in early 2017, demonstrating how by careful chemical modifications, highly toxic compounds, frequently peptidic in nature, can be utilized as antitumor drug candidates. The antibody-drug- conjugates (ADCs) discussed are those that are currently in clinical trials listed in the NIH Clinical Trials Registry as, “currently active, recruiting or in some cases, recently completed”. There are also some ADCs discussed that are at the advanced preclinical stage, that in some cases, are repurposing current drug entities, and the review finishes with a short discussion of the aplyronines as potential candidate warheads as a result of scalable synthetic processes.
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