Dr.  Leyton is a leading scientist, technologist, explorer, and communicator in the field of antibody-based medicines. His work to reinvent how we explore intracellular access for antibodies while retaining phenotype specificity for target cells/tissues has made headlines around the world, merging technology innovation and commercialization in order to make actionable progress to benefit patients. His projects range from an effort to map new intracellular transport routes that increase the cellular accumulation of delivered therapeutic payloads for a class of medicines known as antibody-drug conjugates, to expeditions to address a major chasm in pharmaceutics, drugging undruggable disease-associated intracellular targets, to his most recent efforts to redefine molecular imaging for cancer so doctors can make more informed decisions for patient management and therapeutic action. Jeff is a Universite de Sherbrooke Associate Professor, a Sherbrooke Medical Center research scientist, and a human interested in curiosity and introspection.





Dr. Leyton earned his PhD in Molecular and Medical Pharmacology from the University of California at Los Angeles under the supervision of Dr. Anna Wu (a pioneer in antibody engineering). His PhD thesis was for the development of an engineered radiolabeled antibody that could detect prostate cancer using the imaging technology positron emission tomography. The engineered antibody framework  helped in the development and clinical translation of a novel imagining agent to detect subclinical prostate cancer metastases in patients.


Dr. Leyton trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Ray Reilly (a pioneer in targeted low-enery electron therapy using antibodies). In close collaboration with Dr. John Dick (pioneer in the cancer stem cell concept), Dr. Leyton developed novel radiolabeled antibodies and demonstrated for the first time the ability target leukemia stem cells using antibodies and to eradicate them in vivo. 


As professor in the department of nuclear medicine and radiobiology at the Université de Sherbrooke, Dr. Leyton focuses on development of technologies to improve tumor targeting of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and radioimmunoconjugates (RICs) for the treatment and imaging of cancer, respectively. Specifically, Dr. Leyton's lab discovered a technology that enables antibodies to escape endosome entrapment and localize to the cell nucleus while maintaining tumor cell phenotype specificity. This is revolutionary as antibodies cannot penetrate cell membranes and attempts to access the intracellular spaces comes at the cost of losing target cell specificity.  Dr. Leyton and his team now leverage this technology to design next-generation ADCs, RICs, and the creation of never-before seen antibodies that are able to drug undruggable intracellular targets.

As a communicator, Dr. Leyton has been invited to speak at several international universities and local and international scientific events. With mentoring as a continual passion, Jeff has also lectured at venues for career days for young professionals and drug discovery workshops for students at other universities. 


Significant Contributions

Development  of antibody-conjugates (ACs) that can be translated into the clinic

For imaging of tumors with ACs, contrast (signal-to-noise) is key. I specifically designed and generated a suite of engineered antibodies able to clear rapidly from circulation while maintaining high tumor uptake. This resulted in an increase of specific imaging of tumors. One of the ACs I developed was selected and translated into clnical testing to detect metastatic tumors. 

Development  of ACs able to kill cancer stem cells (CSCs)

CSCs are a subset of specialized tumor cells that are important because of their unique ability to initiate tumorigenesis. Thus, CSCs are akin to the head of a snake. If the head is 'chopped' off, the body cannot live. However, CSCs are very resistant to traditional drugs. I designed ACs for targeting CSCs and was the first to demonstrate that ACs in general could kill CSCs in preclinical models of acute myeloid leukemia.

The Accum platform

A long standing dream for the field of pharmacology is to develop ACs that can effectively access the intracellular space while maintaining target cell specificity. Accum is the first of its kind compound attachable to an AC that enable endosome escape. Accum also routes ACs to the cell nucleus, and results in increased cellular accumulation and tumor cell killing.

recent appearances

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Journey to the center of the cell: Reprogramming intracellular transport to the nucleus enhances tumor killing for antibodies conjugated to nuclear-active payloads. MORE INFO: https://bioduro.com/landing/bd3webinar_add/

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Monday, December 7, 2020

The clinical feasibility for same day ER-HER2 phenotype detection by PET


Queen's University

Plenary Lecture Series

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Antibody Conjugate Molecular Toolkit for Precision Medicines Against Cancer 


Association of Postdoctoral Fellows of Quebec

Annual Career Day

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Journey to the Center of the Cell: A Stimulating Experience for Next-Generation Scientists


McGill University

International Drug Discovery and Development Forum

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

ADCs with Integrated Endosome Escape and Nuclear-Directional Intracellular Trafficking-Control Capabilities: An Approach for Next-Generation Cancer Therapeutics

Life influences


Kevin Plaxco

Professor, Chemistry, UC Santa Barbara

Expertise: Physical biochemistry

I first met Dr. Plaxco in Biochemistry 101. What set Dr. Plaxco apart from the any university teacher I've had is that he was having the time of his life teaching us the fundamentals of how biomolecules are structured and how those structures defined their function. I credit Dr. Plaxco for inspiring me to pursue a professional career in scientific research. He introduced the first connections of how fundamental biochemistry principles can be improved and applied through research to better help our world. Thanks Dr. Plaxco!

Plaxco group homepage


Johan van Lier

Professor, Nuclear Medicine and Radiobiology, Université de Sherbrooke

Expertise: Organic chemistry

Dr. van Lier was my original mentor when I became a professor and thanks to him I survived the academic political jungle in those early years. Johan taught me how to be a professional scientist and how to form a lab and mentor students. How to establish working relationships with colleagues and medical professionals. Thanks Johan!

van Lier homepage

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Jeff Leyton PhD

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