The anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody “UCHT1®” has been published over a 100 times, been cited in a number of issued patents and was recently applied in a published combined therapy to treat Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. Through Ximbio and Cancer Research Technology (CRT) UCHT1® has been made available for research use and diagnostic application via more than 50 distributors since its first characterisation in 1981 in the lab of retired professor Peter Beverley; then funded by Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK) predecessor Imperial Cancer Research Fund. In order to protect the origin and identity of the popular antibody Ximbio has sought to obtain trademark protection in the USA, EU and Japan.
When notified of the new trademark Peter Beverley commented:
It was one of those moments in science that make all the hard, and often fruitless, work worthwhile. We were one of the first to start making hybridomas from mice immunised against human lymphocytes and wanted antibodies against lymphocyte subsets but to our frustration the fusions stopped working after our first success. It took nearly a year to work out that it was due to mycoplasma contamination in the myeloma line. Once this was discovered, everything started to go well again and UCHT1 came out of one of the first "clean" fusions we did.
At the time, I was screening the supernatants by fluorescence microscopy on Peripheral Blood Monocytes (PBMCs), switching between phase and fluorescence so that I could see all cells (under phase contrast) or only those that were stained green (under fluorescence). Working steadily through about six hundred supernatants from the fusion (many hours work in a small and stuffy darkroom) and seeing very many completely negative supernatants or others that stained every cell, I came to one that clearly stained about three quarters of the cells leaving the others absolutely negative, this was UCHT1. If this wasn't exciting enough, the same fusion gave UCHT4, which I came across some hours later!
I knew from seeing the very clear staining patterns of the two antibodies that they would be useful for separating different sorts of human lymphocytes and analysing their function but I couldn't have imagined that nearly 40 years later UCHT1 would be sufficiently important for CRT to trademark it!
UCHT1® is considered a pan T-cell marker - it can be used for the detection of T cell populations in peripheral blood and lymph nodes and the categorisation of T versus B cell lymphomas and leukaemias.
Ximbio’s efforts to trademark UCHT1® will ensure that both CRT remain identifiable as the legal owner of this antibody and revenues continue to be returned to CRT’s parent charity CRUK.