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Monoclonal antibody
TypeWhole antibody
SourceHumanized (from mouse)
Trade namesZinbryta, Zenapax
Clinical data
Main usesDiscontinued
Side effectsUpper respiratory tract infection, rash, depression, liver problems[1]
  • AU: B3
  • US: C (Risk not ruled out)
Routes of
Subcutaneous injection (MS)
Intravenous (transplant rejection)
External links
Legal status
Elimination half-life21 days (11–38 days)
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass142612.39 g·mol−1

Daclizumab, sold under the brand name Zinbryta among others, was a medication used to treat the relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and prevent rejection after a kidney transplant.[1][3] It was given by injection under the skin or into a vein.[1][3]

Common side effects include upper respiratory tract infection, rash, depression, and liver problems such as autoimmune hepatitis.[1] Other health problems may include suicide, infection, colitis, and anaphylaxis.[1] It is a monoclonal antibody which binds to CD25 on T-cells inhibiting them.[1]

Daclizumab was approved for medical use in Europe in 1999 and the United States in 2016.[3][1] In 2018, it was withdrawn from market globally after reports of autoimmune encephalitis in Europe.[4][2]

Medical uses

Daclizumab was used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.[5] It is administered subcutaneously.[6]

In clinical trials, decreases of 45% in annualized relapse rate have been reported, as well as a 41% reduction in the proportion of patients who relapsed, and a 54% reduction in the number of new lesions.[6] A 2013 Cochrane systematic review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to determine the efficacy of daclizumab relative to placebo in people with relapsing-remitting MS and, prior to its being discontinued, the need to investigate longer lengths of treatment and follow-up.[7]


In the US, daclizumab (while approved) was contraindicated in people with liver impairment, including significantly elevated liver enzymes (ALT, AST) and autoimmune hepatitis.[8]

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) originally approved the drug without any contraindications apart from known hypersensitivity,[9] but required Biogen to implement a hepatic risk management guide for physicians.[10] In July 2017, the EMA has issued a provisional contraindication for patients with pre-existing liver disease or liver impairment.[11] The marketing authorisation was withdrawn in the EU on 27 March 2018. An EMA review concluded that the medicine poses a risk of serious and potentially fatal immune reactions affecting the brain, liver and other organs.[12]

Side effects

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%).[6]


As an antibody, daclizumab is expected to have a very low potential for pharmacokinetic interactions with other drugs.[9]


a,b)Known and proposed mechanisms of action[13]

Mechanism of action

Daclizumab blocks IL-2 receptors containing the alpha subunit (CD25), which include the high-affinity receptors. Medium-affinity receptors, on the other hand, consist of two beta subunits (CD122) and are not affected by daclizumab. While the exact mechanism is unknown, the net effect is a reduction of T-cell responses and expansion of CD56bright natural killer cells.[9]


After subcutaneous injection of a single dose, daclizumab has a bioavailability of about 90% and reaches highest blood plasma levels after 5 to 7 days. Given every four weeks, steady state concentrations are found after the fourth dose. It is expected that daclizumab, like other antibodies, is degraded by proteases to peptides and finally amino acids, and that it does not interact with cytochrome P450 liver enzymes.[9]

The biological half-life is 21 days. Patients who developed antibodies against daclizumab eliminated it 19% faster.[9]


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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[15] In March 2018 the drug was removed from the market worldwide

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.[16][17] 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.[17] It was approved in Europe in 1999.[18]

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.[19] In August 2005, PDL and Biogen Idec agreed to collaborate to develop daclizumab in indications outside the fields of organ rejection and respiratory disease.[20] 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.[21] The next year Roche and PDL announced that the collaboration for all indications was ending,[22] 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."[23][24]

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.[25][26] In 2009 Biogen attempted a hostile buy out of Facet for $350M;[27] Facet rejected that offer and was purchased by Abbvie for $450 million in cash the next year.[28] 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.[5][29]

Society and culture


Daclizumab was approved and used to prevent acute rejection of kidney transplant, along with cyclosporine and corticosteroids.[30] 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.[31]


Daclizumab has been studied in a small clinical trial of people with birdshot chorioretinopathy.[32]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Daclizumab Monograph for Professionals". Drugs.com. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "FDA working with manufacturers to withdraw Zinbryta from the market in the United States". U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Archived from the original on 27 September 2019. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "ZENAPAX" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  4. "Biogen, AbbVie withdraw multiple sclerosis drug Zinbryta". Reuters. 2018. Archived from the original on 2020-11-09. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  5. 5.0 5.1 FDA BLA Approval letter Archived 2016-07-05 at the Wayback Machine May 27, 2016
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Lycke J (November 2015). "Monoclonal antibody therapies for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: differentiating mechanisms and clinical outcomes". Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders. 8 (6): 274–93. doi:10.1177/1756285615605429. PMC 4643868. PMID 26600872.
  7. Liu, Jia; Wang, Lu-Ning; Zhan, Siyan; Xia, Yinyin (2013-12-23). "Daclizumab for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (12): CD008127. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008127.pub4. ISSN 1469-493X. PMID 24363032.
  8. FDA Professional Drug Information for Zinbryta.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Haberfeld, H, ed. (2016). Austria-Codex (in Deutsch). Vienna: Österreichischer Apothekerverlag.
  10. "Zinbryta Summary of Product Characteristics" (PDF). European Medicines Agency. 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-06-14. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  11. "Zinbryta Article-20 referral - Summary of provisional measures" (PDF). European Medicines Agency. 20 July 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 July 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  12. "EMA review of Zinbryta confirms medicine's risks outweigh its benefits". European Medicines Agency. 27 March 2018. Archived from the original on 24 June 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  13. Cohan, Stanley; Lucassen, Elisabeth; Romba, Meghan; Linch, Stefanie (11 March 2019). "Daclizumab: Mechanisms of Action, Therapeutic Efficacy, Adverse Events and Its Uncovering the Potential Role of Innate Immune System Recruitment as a Treatment Strategy for Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis". Biomedicines. 7 (1): 18. doi:10.3390/biomedicines7010018.
  14. Tsurushita N, Hinton PR, Kumar S (May 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.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Swenson RS, Weisinger JR, Ruggeri JL, Reaven GM (February 1975). "Evidence that parathyroid hormone is not required for phosphate homeostasis in renal failure". Metabolism. 24 (2): 199–204. doi:10.1016/0026-0495(75)90021-9. PMID 1113683.
  16. Lawrence M. Fisher for The New York Times. December 12, 1997 Genetically Engineered Drug Approved for Kidney Transplants Archived 2017-12-27 at the Wayback Machine
  17. 17.0 17.1 Staff, The Pharma Letter. December 17, 1997. Roche's Zenapax Gets First Approval For Transplants Archived 2016-08-07 at the Wayback Machine
  18. Roche. March 04, 1999 Roche Press Release: Zenapax (daclizumab), The First Humanized Monoclonal Antibody To Prevent Organ Rejection, Approved In The European Union Archived 2021-08-28 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Candace Hoffmann for First Word Pharma. September 16, 2004 Roche in new deal to co-development asthma drug Archived 2020-08-11 at the Wayback Machine
  20. Thiel KA (October 2005). "A very firm handshake: biotech's growing negotiating power". Nature Biotechnology. 23 (10): 1221–6. doi:10.1038/nbt1005-1221. PMID 16211058. S2CID 19365410.
  21. Staff, PharmaTimes. November 1, 2005 Roche inks new deal for transplant drug Archived 2021-02-28 at the Wayback Machine
  22. PharmaTimes November 23, 2006 Roche ducks out of transplant drug alliance Archived 2021-03-01 at the Wayback Machine
  23. "EMEA: Withdrawal of the marketing authorisation in the European Union" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  24. Roche via the FDA Letter to Healthcare Professionals Archived 2017-02-16 at the Wayback Machine September 2009
  25. John Carroll for FierceBiotech. 2009 Emerging Drug Developer: Facet Biotech Archived 2017-09-07 at the Wayback Machine
  26. PDL BioPharma, Inc. Form 8-K Archived 2016-08-22 at the Wayback Machine December 17, 2008
  27. Luke Timmerman for Xconomy. September 4, 2009 Biogen Idec Makes Hostile $350M Takeover Bid for Facet Biotech Archived 2016-06-10 at the Wayback Machine
  28. Staff, New York Times Dealbook. March 9, 2010. Abbott to Buy Facet Biotech for 67% Premium Archived 2013-02-06 at the Wayback Machine
  29. FDA News Release: FDA approves Zinbryta to treat multiple sclerosis Archived 2019-04-23 at the Wayback Machine May 27, 2016
  30. Rejection label Archived 2020-11-18 at the Wayback Machine Supplement label update September 2005
  31. "EPAR for Zenapax" (PDF). European Medicines Agency. 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. Sobrin L, Huang JJ, Christen W, Kafkala C, Choopong P, Foster CS (February 2008). "Daclizumab for treatment of birdshot chorioretinopathy". Archives of Ophthalmology. 126 (2): 186–91. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2007.49. PMID 18268208.

External links