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Monoclonal antibody
Type Whole antibody
Source Humanized (from mouse)
Target CD25
Clinical data
Trade names Zinbryta (multiple sclerosis) Zenapax (acute transplant rejection, discontinued in 2009)
AHFS/Drugs.com Monograph
  • C
Routes of
Legal status
Legal status
  • US: ℞-only
  • Approved in US for MS; European marketing authorisation withdrawn for transplant; pending for MS
Pharmacokinetic data
Biological half-life 20 days (11–38 days)
CAS Number 152923-56-3 YesY
ATC code L04AC01 (WHO)
DrugBank DB00111 YesY
ChemSpider none
Chemical data
Formula C6332H9808N1678O1989S42
Molar mass 142,612.1 g/mol
 NYesY (what is this?)  (verify)

Daclizumab (trade name Zinbryta) is a therapeutic humanized monoclonal antibody used for the treatment of adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Daclizumab works by binding to CD25, the alpha subunit of the IL-2 receptor of T cells.

It was formerly marketed under the trade name Zenapax to prevent acute rejection in people with kidney transplants along with cyclosporine and corticosteroids but marketing of the drug for that purpose was discontinued in 2009 due to lack of market demand.


Daclizumab is used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.[1] It is administered subcutaneously.[2]

In clinical trials it showed 45% decrease in annualized relapse rate, a 41% reduction in the proportion of patients who relapsed, and a 54% reduction in the number of new lesions.[2]

Discontinued use[edit]

Daclizumab was approved and used to prevent acute rejection of kidney transplant, along with cyclosporine and corticosteroids.[3] For that indication, side effects with a frequency of at least 10% included sleeplessness, tremor, headache, arterial hypertension, dyspnoea, gastrointestinal side effects and oedema. In rare cases, the drug could cause severe anaphylaxis.[4]

Adverse effects[edit]

In clinical trials for MS, there were no treatment-related deaths or increased risk of cancer; side effects that occurred more frequently with daclizumab versus interferon included infections (65% versus 57%), skin rashes (37% versus 19%) and liver complications (approximately 18% versus 12%).[2]


Daclizumab was created by scientists at PDL BioPharma (called "Protein Design Labs" at that time) by humanizing the mouse mAb called anti-Tac, which targets CD25, the IL-2 receptor α chain; it blocks the interaction of IL-2 with the IL-2 receptor and prevents activation of T cells.[5] Anti-Tac had been discovered by Thomas A. Waldmann, M.D., chief of the Metabolism Branch at the National Cancer Institute and his team, and they had conducted animal studies and a small clinical trial of anti-Tac in people with T-cell leukemia, with promising results, but people quickly developed their own antibodies rejecting the mouse protein; Waldman, and his colleagues then approached Protein Design Labs to humanize the antibody.[6] PDL and the NIH scientists then approached Roche, a leader in transplant medicine development, to get the drug developed and approved, as PDL didn't have the resources to actually bring the product to market.[6]

In December 1997 daclizumab was approved by the FDA for use in preventing acute rejection of kidney transplants, in combination with ciclosporin and corticosteroids; it was the first humanized antibody approved anywhere in the world.[7][8] At launch, the average wholesale price for the drug was estimated to be $6,800 for five doses and it was estimated that annual sales would be between $100 million and $250 million within five years of the launch and it was thought that the drug's use would be expanded for use in other organ transplants.[8] It was approved in Europe in 1999.[9]

PDL began clinical trials of daclizumab on its own, and in September 2004 after the drug had shown promise in a Phase II trial, PDL and Roche agreed to expand their relationship to include codevelopment of daclizumab for asthma and other respiratory conditions.[10] In August 2005, PDL and Biogen Idec agreed to collaborate to develop daclizumab in indications outside the fields of organ rejection and respiratory disease.[11] In November 2005 Roche and PDL agreed to try to develop a formulation of daclizumab that would be useful as a subcutaneous injection for longterm maintenance in organ transplant.[12] The next year Roche and PDL announced that the collaboration for all indications was ending,[13] and in 2009 it announced that it was discontinuing Zenapax worldwide "in view of available alternative treatments and the diminishing market demand" and "not due to any safety issue."[14][15]

in 2008 PDL spun out its active development programs into a company called Facet Biotech and development of daclizumab for multiple sclerosis and the partnership with Biogen was included in that spinout.[16][17] In 2009 Biogen attempted a hostile buy out of Facet for $350M;[18] Facet rejected that offer and was purchased by Abbvie for $450 million in cash the next year.[19] In May 2016 the FDA approved daclizumab for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis in adults in 2016 under the trade name Zinbryta, with requirements for postmarketing studies and to submit a formal Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy.[1][20]


Daclizumab has been studied in a small clinical trial of people with birdshot chorioretinopathy.[21]


  1. ^ a b FDA BLA Approval letter May 27, 2016
  2. ^ a b c Lycke J. Monoclonal antibody therapies for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: differentiating mechanisms and clinical outcomes. Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2015 Nov;8(6):274-93. Review. PMID 26600872 PMC 4643868
  3. ^ Rejection label Supplement label update September 2005
  4. ^ "EPAR for Zenapax" (PDF). European Medicines Agency. 2007. 
  5. ^ Tsurushita, N.; Hinton, P. R.; Kumar, S. (2005). "Design of humanized antibodies: From anti-Tac to Zenapax". Methods. 36 (1): 69–83. doi:10.1016/j.ymeth.2005.01.007. PMID 15848076. 
  6. ^ a b Marwick C. Scientists recall progress and promise of translational research. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001 Jan 3;93(1):13-5. PMID 1113683.
  7. ^ Lawrence M. Fisher for The New York Times. December 12, 1997 Genetically Engineered Drug Approved for Kidney Transplants
  8. ^ a b Staff, The Pharma Letter. December 17, 1997. Roche's Zenapax Gets First Approval For Transplants
  9. ^ Roche. March 04, 1999 Roche Press Release: Zenapax (daclizumab), The First Humanized Monoclonal Antibody To Prevent Organ Rejection, Approved In The European Union
  10. ^ Candace Hoffmann for First Word Pharma. September 16, 2004 Roche in new deal to co-development asthma drug
  11. ^ Thiel KA. A very firm handshake: biotech's growing negotiating power. Nat Biotechnol. 2005 Oct;23(10):1221-6. PMID 16211058
  12. ^ Staff, PharmaTimes. November 1, 2005 Roche inks new deal for transplant drug
  13. ^ PharmaTimes November 23, 2006 Roche ducks out of transplant drug alliance
  14. ^ EMEA: Withdrawal of the marketing authorisation in the European Union
  15. ^ Roche via the FDA Letter to Healthcare Professionals September 2009
  16. ^ John Carroll for FierceBiotech. 2009 Emerging Drug Developer: Facet Biotech
  17. ^ PDL BioPharma, Inc. Form 8-K December 17, 2008
  18. ^ Luke Timmerman for Xconomy. September 4, 2009 Biogen Idec Makes Hostile $350M Takeover Bid for Facet Biotech
  19. ^ Staff, New York Times Dealbook. March 9, 2010. Abbott to Buy Facet Biotech for 67% Premium
  20. ^ FDA News Release: FDA approves Zinbryta to treat multiple sclerosis May 27, 2016
  21. ^ Sobrin L; Huang JJ; Christen W; Kafkala C; Choopong P; Foster CS (2008). "Daclizumab for treatment of birdshot chorioretinopathy". Arch Ophthalmol. 126 (2): 186–191. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2007.49. PMID 18268208.