Prev : Next The Wistar patents
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants a patent to the Wistar Institute of Philadelphia on a technique for producing monoclonal antibodies against tumor antigens. It is the first patent issued on hybridoma technology in the United States, and the first of several Wistar patents that make broad claims on applications of the technology to the manufacture of antibodies against cancers and viruses. Wistar applications are rejected in the U.K. on the grounds that they constitute obvious extensions of Köhler and Milstein’s original invention. The property claims generate a controversy in the scientific community. Milstein had freely distributed the myeloma cell line required for the production of monoclonal antibodies, but had on occasion stipulated that the cells not be commercialized. Hilary Koprowski and colleagues at the Wistar Institute had accepted cells from Milstein, but subsequently insisted that the transfer was unconditional. The Wistar patents are licensed on an exclusive basis in the U.S. to Centocor, Inc., but are mostly ignored and never defended. For all practical purposes, the Köhler and Milstein invention resides in the public domain.