PDL BioPharma (NASDAQ: PDLI) is a biotech company with a patented process to create humanized antibodies. The company was formerly known as Protein Design Labs, Inc. and changed its name to PDL BioPharma, Inc. in 2006. PDL was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in Incline Village, Nevada. PDL engages in the management of antibody humanization patents and royalty assets, which consist of its Queen et al. patents and license agreements with various biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
Antibodies are proteins in the immune system that help the body defend against foreign invasion, particularly from pathogens and toxins. As such, a human-engineered therapeutic monoclonal antibody is a protein that has the ability to combine specifically with a target protein that plays a role in a disease process. With this unique ability to specifically target disease-related cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected, monoclonal antibodies can serve to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions. Examples include Genentech/Roche’s Avastin®, Herceptin®, and Lucentis® and Elan/Biogen Idec’s Tysabri®, which are all produced using PDLI’s antibody technology and together made up more than 80% of the company’s royalty revenue in 2008.
It is relatively easy for a biotech company to make a mouse or chicken antibody. However, these animal antibodies may be seen by the human body as foreign substances triggering an immune response. Therefore humanized antibodies, which are more difficult to produce, are preferred. PDL licenses the technology to produce humanized antibodies to other pharmaceutical and biotech companies in exchange for royalty payments. Since 2004 PDLI’s revenues have averaged year-over-year growth rates of more than 20%, predominantly as a result of royalty payments from pharmaceutical companies that use PDLI’s antibody humanization technology to make treatments for cancer as well as autoimmune and infectious diseases.