$145 Million Down; Billions to Go

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No shocker here: Seattle Genetics (Nasdaq: SGEN  ) has signed up another partner.

Including the $8 million it's getting from Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) for the latest deal, the biotech has brought in more than $145 million in licensing fees for using its antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) technology.

The ADC technology uses an antibody to target a cell-killing drug to a specific cell type. Tumor cells that overexpress a protein make ideal candidates because the antibody can home in on the tumor cells rather than having toxic chemotherapy killing everything in sight. ImmunoGen (Nasdaq: IMGN  ) has a similar technology that it calls Targeted Antibody Payload (TAP), which it has licensed to quite a few companies as well.

A measly $8 million might not seem like much, but Seattle Genetics doesn't really have to do anything to develop the drug -- and the cost of any help it does give Pfizer is reimbursed. Seattle Genetics just gets to sit back, hope the drug Pfizer develops works, and potentially collect more than $200 million in milestone payments as well as royalties.

And that's on top of all the other potential milestone payments from licensing the technology to other companies. Seattle Genetics now has 10 ADC collaborations with companies as small as Celldex Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CLDX  ) and as large as Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK  ) . Even Genentech, the king of biotech, has licensed the technology.

Collectively, the ADC licensing deals are important to Seattle Genetics. But individually, they're not nearly as important as its lead drug, brentuximab vedotin. Unlike the technology licensing deals, Seattle Genetics developed this ADC drug in-house. The U.S. and Canadian rights to brentuximab vedotin -- Takeda has the rights elsewhere -- are worth a heck of a lot more than a licensing deal that likely only offers low-single-digit royalties. With positive clinical trial results in hand, Seattle Genetics expects to submit to the Food and Drug Administration this quarter, so revenue from brentuximab vedotin could start rolling in by the end of the year.

I don't know if brentuximab vedotin has the potential to be an instant blockbuster, but combined with the other licensing deals, Seattle Genetics has billions of dollars in potential revenue.

Alex Dumortier shows you how to invest like a pro in 2011.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. ImmunoGen is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool owns shares of and has written covered calls on GlaxoSmithKline, which is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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