The American pharmaceutical company, Abbott has agreed to pay US$255 million in place of the future royalties the MRC, Scripps Research and Stratagene would have received on sales of the drug HUMIRA®. In addition, Cambridge Antibody Technology will pay the MRC a further US$7.5m over five years from 2006, providing that the drug remains on the market.

The MRC patents cover a series of inventions made by Sir Gregory Winter and his colleagues at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology during the late 1980s and early 1990s for making 'human monoclonal antibodies'.

Sir Gregory commented "Our inventions originated from pure curiosity-driven and long-term basic research funded at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology by the MRC. Provided such research is intelligently and quickly exploited, it can pay handsome dividends for medicine, UK industry and human health. It can also generate considerable royalty income, which ploughed back into science will help generate the medicines and industries of the future."

Professor Colin Blakemore, the MRC Chief Executive added "This deal is great news for British science. It shows the wonderful achievements that can be won for human health when the Medical Research Council works with industry. It also gives the UK an opportunity to reap the rewards from our past discoveries to make the fullest possible investment in future science. The agreement will help us give our scientists new research facilities and the best laboratories".

Although the scientists from MRC and Scripps Research were scientific competitors in earlier years, they pooled their inventions in Cambridge Antibody Technology to facilitate exploitation of the technology for creation of new medicines.; Source: Scripps Research Institute