Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) offer a combination of antibody therapy and specific delivery of potent small-molecule payloads to target cells. The properties of the ADC molecule are determined by the balance of its components. The efficacy of the payload component increases with higher drug-to-antibody ratio (DAR), while homogeneous DAR = 8 ADCs are easily prepared by conjugation to the four accessible antibody hinge cystines. However, use of hydrophobic payloads has permitted only DAR = 2–4, due to poor pharmacokinetics and aggregation problems. Here, we describe generation and characterization of homogeneous DAR = 8 ADCs carrying a novel auristatin β-D
-glucuronide, MMAU. The glycoside payload contributed to overall hydrophilicity of the ADC reducing aggregation. Compared to standard DAR = 2–4 ADCs, cytotoxicity of the homogeneous DAR = 8 ADCs was improved to low-picomolar IC50
values against cancer cells in vitro. Bystander efficacy was restored after ADC internalization and subsequent cleavage of the glycoside, although unconjugated MMAU was relatively non-toxic to cells. DAR = 8 MMAU ADCs were effective against target antigen-expressing xenograft tumors. The ADCs were also studied in 3D in vitro patient-derived xenograft (PDX) assays where they outperformed clinically used ADC. In conclusion, increased hydrophilicity of the payload contributed to the ADC’s hydrophilicity, stability and safety to non-target cells, while significantly improving cytotoxicity and enabling bystander efficacy.