The pharmaceutical industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the evolution of 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 787,000 patents filed and granted in the pharmaceutical industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in pharma: neuro-degenerative disease therapies. Buy the report here.

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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 stabilizing 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.

80+ 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 668,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, engineered multi-specific antibodies, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and mutant DNA polymerases are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Phenotypic drug screening, antibody-drug conjugates, and polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccines are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are drug delivery nanoparticles and antibody encoding polynucleotide libraries, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the pharmaceutical industry

Neuro-degenerative disease therapies is a key innovation area in the pharmaceutical industry

Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of disorders characterized by the progressive degeneration of the structure and function of the nervous system. These diseases include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and many others. Therapies for neurodegenerative diseases aim to manage symptoms, slow disease progression, and improve the quality of life for individuals affected by these conditions. Cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine are used to manage cognitive symptoms. Levodopa and dopamine agonists help manage motor symptoms. Gene therapy approaches are being developed to correct or replace defective genes for certain genetic neurodegenerative diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and certain forms of familial ALS.

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 270+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of neuro-degenerative disease therapies.

Key players in neuro-degenerative disease therapies – a disruptive innovation in the pharmaceutical industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to neuro-degenerative disease therapies

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
AC Immune 377 Unlock Company Profile
Biogen 371 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 336 Unlock Company Profile
AbbVie 307 Unlock Company Profile
Prothena 217 Unlock Company Profile
The Lundbeck Foundation 190 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 185 Unlock Company Profile
BioArctic 155 Unlock Company Profile
Axon Neuroscience 134 Unlock Company Profile
TauRx Pharmaceuticals 105 Unlock Company Profile
Eli Lilly 89 Unlock Company Profile
Neurimmune 89 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 83 Unlock Company Profile
Bristol-Myers Squibb 81 Unlock Company Profile
UCB 77 Unlock Company Profile
Vivoryon Therapeutics 72 Unlock Company Profile
Forschungszentrum Julich 72 Unlock Company Profile
Proteome Sciences 69 Unlock Company Profile
PTC Therapeutics 56 Unlock Company Profile
Eisai 56 Unlock Company Profile
OncoTherapy Science 56 Unlock Company Profile
AstraZeneca 50 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 47 Unlock Company Profile
AFFiRiS 44 Unlock Company Profile
Pfizer 44 Unlock Company Profile
Cedars-Sinai Health System 42 Unlock Company Profile
C2N Diagnostics 40 Unlock Company Profile
ProMIS Neurosciences 40 Unlock Company Profile
Priavoid 38 Unlock Company Profile
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals 36 Unlock Company Profile
Sage Therapeutics 35 Unlock Company Profile
Acorda Therapeutics 35 Unlock Company Profile
Max Planck Society 34 Unlock Company Profile
Ionis Pharmaceuticals 33 Unlock Company Profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 32 Unlock Company Profile
Merck 32 Unlock Company Profile
Perrigo 31 Unlock Company Profile
Tao Health Life Pharma 31 Unlock Company Profile
CommonSpirit Health 31 Unlock Company Profile
Nestle 27 Unlock Company Profile
Grifols 25 Unlock Company Profile
Massachusetts General Hospital 25 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceutical 24 Unlock Company Profile
MorphoSys 24 Unlock Company Profile
Alector 24 Unlock Company Profile
National Research Council of Canada 23 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie Merieux Alliance 23 Unlock Company Profile
Aprinoia Therapeutics 23 Unlock Company Profile
Baxter International 23 Unlock Company Profile
Adimab 22 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

AC Immune is one of the leading patent filers in neuro-degenerative disease therapies. AC Immune is a biopharmaceutical company based in Switzerland that specializes in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other proteinopathies. In 2023, the company received Fast Track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ACI-24.060 for the treatment of AD. Biogen and F. Hoffmann-La Roche  are some of the other key patent filers in neuro-degenerative disease therapies.

In terms of application diversity, PTC Therapeutics leads the pack, while Aprinoia Therapeutics and AFFiRiS stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, AstraZeneca held the top position, followed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and C2N Diagnostics.

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

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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.