Protein Design Labs Inc. (PDL) of Mountain View, Calif.,announced Monday that it will humanize a mouse monoclonalantibody for Sandoz Pharma Ltd. of Basel, Switzerland.

The agreement includes Sandoz's payment of an up-front fee,in addition to future milestone and sales royalty payments,said Katherine Ku, PDL's vice president of businessdevelopment. Financial details were not disclosed.

Sandoz is the first company with which PDL has made anagreement to humanize antibodies, said Ku. Sandoz's mouseantibody is in clinical trials as a cancer therapeutic, she added.

The process replaces mouse protein sequences in the antibodywith human sequences. Ku said PDL's technique results inantibodies that are more than 90 percent human, whereastraditional human/mouse chimeric antibodies are 70 percent to75 percent human. PDL expects that humanized antibodies willbe less immunogenic, have a longer half-life in the body, andbe more efficacious than either mouse antibodies or traditionalchimeric antibodies.

Dr. Max Link, Sandoz's president, said the agreement isimportant because there is evidence that the new kinds ofmonoclonal antibodies that PDL is developing "may represent amajor breakthrough."

Jim McCamant, editor of Medical Technology Stock Letter, saidthe Sandoz investment is an important source of revenue forPDL, which is privately held. However, he is skeptical about thelong-term impact of humanized antibodies as therapeutics.McCamant said monoclonal antibodies are only temporarysolutions to targeted drug delivery.

So far there have been no direct tests between the two types ofhybrid antibodies.

PDL takes an average of six months to humanize an antibody,said Ku. The company hopes to begin clinical trials of at leastone of its seven antibody projects later this year, she added.

-- Carol Talkington Verser, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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