Seattle Genetics is perhaps best known for the development of the first FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate, ADCetris. This highly innovative drug has been FDA-approved for the treatment of refractory non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma disease, a major killer in the United States, affecting more than half a million people at any given time. This drug has made serious dent in the mortality rates for this difficult to treat illness, saving thousands of lives and making Seattle Genetics a small fortune in the process.
But Seattle Genetics, like all pharmaceutical companies, has needed to heavily diversify its revenue streams. This is a result of the nature of the pharmaceutical business. Companies are often forced to fund study after study and project after project in the mad race to get a drug FDA approved. For every 10 drugs that are initially put into phase one clinical trials, only one will ultimately be FDA-approved. The other nine drugs are all costs that are born directly by the pharmaceutical company developing them. This results in an extremely expensive process, requiring massive amounts of capital and making pharmaceutical companies one of the most capital-intensive and risky businesses in the world today.
For this reason, Seattle Genetics has diversified its revenue into licensing both products and the manufacture of other drugs. They also license out patented processes, by which other companies can perform the same kinds of highly innovative research that Seattle Genetics has been able to do and that has ultimately led them to having the first FDA-approved antibody drug conjugate.
Among these patented processes is Seattle Genetics’ highly innovative means for the production of monoclonal antibodies, which are used in the creation of antibody drug conjugates. First, a rat is injected with malignant cells. The rat’s body then actually produces antibodies in response to the presence of these foreign tissues. Those antibodies are then isolated in a laboratory. Every molecule resembling those antibodies is in synthetically produced, sometimes creating thousands or even tens of thousands of individual molecules. These molecules are then tested on animals and human subjects, in order to see which ones yield the lowest incidence of serious side effects, while still retaining the ability to target the specified malignancy.