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: Nucleic acid active pharmaceutical ingredient. Buy the report here.

Smarter leaders trust GlobalData

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

Nucleic acid active pharmaceutical ingredient is a key innovation area in pharmaceutical

The active ingredients in nucleic acid drugs are oligonucleotides, which are short, single, or double-stranded DNA or RNA molecules, and include antisense oligonucleotides (ASO), RNA interference (RNAi), and aptamer RNAs. Oligonucleotides is used to block the production of proteins needed for cell growth. They are being studied in the treatment of several types of cancer.

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 100 companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of nucleic acid active pharmaceutical ingredient.

Key players in nucleic acid active pharmaceutical ingredient – 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 nucleic acid active pharmaceutical ingredient

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Ionis Pharmaceuticals 1199 Unlock Company Profile
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals 529 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 313 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Shinyaku 169 Unlock Company Profile
Sanofi 168 Unlock Company Profile
Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals 129 Unlock Company Profile
ProQR Therapeutics 121 Unlock Company Profile
Pfizer 121 Unlock Company Profile
Regulus Therapeutics 103 Unlock Company Profile
Wave Life Sciences 97 Unlock Company Profile
Nogra Two 94 Unlock Company Profile
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 92 Unlock Company Profile
Novo Nordisk Foundation 73 Unlock Company Profile
Biogen 69 Unlock Company Profile
OPKO Health 69 Unlock Company Profile
Bio-Path Holdings 63 Unlock Company Profile
Arbutus Biopharma 63 Unlock Company Profile
Sarepta Therapeutics 49 Unlock Company Profile
Daiichi Sankyo 48 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 46 Unlock Company Profile
Antisense Therapeutics 43 Unlock Company Profile
Exicure 43 Unlock Company Profile
Avidity Biosciences 40 Unlock Company Profile
Bristol-Myers Squibb 39 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 38 Unlock Company Profile
Neurovision Pharma 38 Unlock Company Profile
Dynavax Technologies 34 Unlock Company Profile
GSK 33 Unlock Company Profile
General Hospital 28 Unlock Company Profile
Secarna Pharmaceuticals 27 Unlock Company Profile
Massachusetts General Hospital 27 Unlock Company Profile
OPKO CURNA 27 Unlock Company Profile
Biomarin Technologies 26 Unlock Company Profile
Stoke Therapeutics 24 Unlock Company Profile
IVERIC bio 24 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 22 Unlock Company Profile
Silence Therapeutics 22 Unlock Company Profile
National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry 22 Unlock Company Profile
City of Hope 22 Unlock Company Profile
Amgen 18 Unlock Company Profile
Phio Pharmaceuticals 18 Unlock Company Profile
Pharma Mar 18 Unlock Company Profile
Enhancedbio 18 Unlock Company Profile
Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore 17 Unlock Company Profile
MiNA (Holdings) 16 Unlock Company Profile
Institut de Myologie 16 Unlock Company Profile
Novartis 16 Unlock Company Profile
Tirmed Pharma 15 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Chemical 15 Unlock Company Profile
Erasmus MC 15 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Ionis Pharmaceuticals (Ionis), formerly ISIS Pharmaceuticals, is one of the leading patent filers in nucleic acid active pharmaceutical ingredients. It focuses on the discovery and development of RNA-targeted drugs. Its major products include Spinraza for spinal muscular atrophy, Tegsedi for neuropathy, and Waylivra for familial chylomicronemia syndrome. It develops products based on its proprietary antisense technology. The company partnered with other pharmaceutical companies to develop a range of products in different therapeutic areas.

In terms of application diversity, OPKO CURNA is the top company, followed by Idera Pharmaceuticals and Neurovision Pharma. By means of geographic reach, IVERIC bio holds the top position, while Pharma Mar and MiNA (Holdings) 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.

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.