Mike Clark was a Ph.D. student working with Cesar Milstein from 1978-1981 carrying out research into the recently described technology of making monoclonal antibodies (Kohler and Milstein 1975). During that period he met with Herman Waldmann who had also gone to work with Cesar Milstein in order to learn how to make use of the technique of monoclonal antibodies with the aim of applying this knowledge in human therapy.
On leaving LMB, Mike Clark joined Waldmann’s research team with the aim of making monoclonal antibodies against human lymphocyte cell surface antigens for applications in human bone-marrow transplantation. One of the antibodies, against the human CD52 antigen, later to be known as CAMPATH, looked to be of use in immunosuppression and the treatment of B-cell malignancies. However because the antibody was of rat origin it proved to be immunogenic during repeated administration. Waldmann and Clark approached another LMB colleague, Greg Winter, and sought his assistance in the humanisation of CAMPATH. This work was published in Nature in 1988 and was the first humanised antibody for human therapeutic application. After a further period of clinical development, in 2001 the antibody was granted approval by the FDA for therapeutic use in treatment of B-CLL under the generic name alemtuzumab.
Mike Clark continues to work on antibody structure and function, and on the application of antibodies for therapeutic and diagnostic use. He runs a research group working within the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge.