The pharmaceutical industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the evolution of new treatment paradigms, and the gravity of unmet needs, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as pharmacogenomics, digital therapeutics, and artificial intelligence. In the last three years alone, there have been over 633,000 patents filed and granted in the pharmaceutical industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Pharmaceuticals: Attenuated virus-based vaccines.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

110 innovations will shape the pharmaceutical industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the pharmaceutical industry using innovation intensity models built on over 756,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, cell therapy for ocular disorders, coronavirus vaccine components, and DNA polymerase compositions are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Adeno-associated virus vectors, alcohol dehydrogenase compositions, and antibody serum stabilisers are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are anti-influenza antibody compositions and anti-interleukin-1, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the pharmaceutical industry

Attenuated virus-based vaccines is a key innovation area in the pharmaceutical industry

A live-attenuated vaccine uses a living but weakened version of a virus or bacteria with reduced virulence. Live-attenuated vaccines help in preventing infection by creating a strong and long-lasting immune response without causing serious disease in people with healthy immune systems

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of attenuated virus-based vaccines.

Key players in attenuated virus-based vaccines – a disruptive innovation in the pharmaceutical industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to attenuated virus-based vaccines

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 200 Unlock company profile
Merck & Co 131 Unlock company profile
Sanofi 113 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 113 Unlock company profile
Grifols 83 Unlock company profile
Bavarian Nordic 83 Unlock company profile
C. H. Boehringer Sohn 81 Unlock company profile
Compagnie Merieux Alliance 78 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 73 Unlock company profile
Pfizer 66 Unlock company profile
GSK 46 Unlock company profile
E. Merck 44 Unlock company profile
AstraZeneca 43 Unlock company profile
US Department of Health and Human Services 39 Unlock company profile
UniQure 37 Unlock company profile
Baxter International 33 Unlock company profile
Valneva 32 Unlock company profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 31 Unlock company profile
German Cancer Research Center 28 Unlock company profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 27 Unlock company profile
iosBio Pharma 27 Unlock company profile
Xiamen Innovax Biotech 25 Unlock company profile
Apse 25 Unlock company profile
Zydus Lifesciences 25 Unlock company profile
Zoetis 25 Unlock company profile
Cevec Pharmaceuticals 24 Unlock company profile
Genethon 24 Unlock company profile
PsiOxus Therapeutics 22 Unlock company profile
I'rom Group 19 Unlock company profile
Cevante Animale 19 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 19 Unlock company profile
IP Group 18 Unlock company profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 18 Unlock company profile
CSL 16 Unlock company profile
iNtRON Biotechnology 16 Unlock company profile
Avir Green Hills Biotechnology 16 Unlock company profile
Meiji Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
Kaketsuken 15 Unlock company profile
EyeGene 15 Unlock company profile
Bayer 14 Unlock company profile
Redbiotec 14 Unlock company profile
Sartorius 13 Unlock company profile
Accelerate Diagnostics 13 Unlock company profile
Calixar 13 Unlock company profile
Takara Holdings 13 Unlock company profile
AGC 12 Unlock company profile
Profectus BioSciences 10 Unlock company profile
Asahi Kasei 10 Unlock company profile
Changchun High-tech Industrial (Group) 9 Unlock company profile
GE Healthcare 9 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Merck is one of the leading patent filers of attenuated virus-based vaccines. The company has several marketed assets for measles, mumps, and rubella.  Merck is also developing a product for cytomegalovirus (HHV-5) infections based on an attenuated virus. Apart from the above asset, the company has also filed patents for new developments based on attenuated vaccines.

In terms of application diversity, Kuros Biosciences is the top company, followed by Stabilitech and iosBio Pharma. By means of geographic reach, Grifols holds the top position, while Zydus Lifesciences and Cevec Pharmaceuticals are in second and third positions, respectively.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the pharmaceutical industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Pharmaceutical.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.