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: Nucleoside chemical synthesis. 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 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

Nucleoside chemical synthesis is a key innovation area in the pharmaceutical industry

Nucleosides are typically synthesised by coupling nucleophilic pyrimidines, purines, or other basic heterocycles with an electrophilic ribose or deoxyribose derivative. Nucleosides can be synthesised from nucleophilic bases and electrophilic sugars by three general methods. The fusion method involves heating the base and acetyl-protected 1-acetoxyribose to 155 °C, resulting in a 70% yield of the nucleoside. The metal salt method involves the combination of a metal salt of the heterocycle with an enclosed sugar halide. The silyl-Hilbert-Johnson (SHJ) reaction is the combination of a silylated heterocycle and protected sugar acetate in the presence of a Lewis acid. Transglycosylation, which involves reversible transfer of a sugar moiety from one heterocyclic base to another, is also effective in converting pyrimidine nucleosides into purine nucleosides.

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 110 companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of nucleoside chemical synthesis.

Key players in nucleoside chemical synthesis – a notable 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 nucleoside chemical synthesis

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Gilead Sciences 544 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 420 Unlock Company Profile
Merck & Co 303 Unlock Company Profile
Illumina 238 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 227 Unlock Company Profile
Riboscience 133 Unlock Company Profile
Ionis Pharmaceuticals 122 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 114 Unlock Company Profile
SomaLogic 113 Unlock Company Profile
Agilent Technologies 92 Unlock Company Profile
NuCana 73 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm Holdings 73 Unlock Company Profile
AstraZeneca 70 Unlock Company Profile
Medivir 68 Unlock Company Profile
Geron 50 Unlock Company Profile
Pacific Biosciences of California 50 Unlock Company Profile
Otsuka Holdings 50 Unlock Company Profile
Wave Life Sciences 49 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 48 Unlock Company Profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 46 Unlock Company Profile
Changzhou Fangyuan Pharmaceutical 43 Unlock Company Profile
Bonac 40 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 38 Unlock Company Profile
Sichuan Kelun Industrial Group 35 Unlock Company Profile
Idenix (Cayman) 35 Unlock Company Profile
Qiagen 33 Unlock Company Profile
Eisai 31 Unlock Company Profile
ChemGenes 31 Unlock Company Profile
Muscle Pharm 31 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 29 Unlock Company Profile
Pfizer 29 Unlock Company Profile
Inner Mongolia Puyin Pharmaceutical 29 Unlock Company Profile
LGC 29 Unlock Company Profile
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals 28 Unlock Company Profile
Ligand Pharmaceuticals 27 Unlock Company Profile
Calithera Biosciences 26 Unlock Company Profile
DNA Script 25 Unlock Company Profile
Cellix Bio Pvt 22 Unlock Company Profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 20 Unlock Company Profile
Ipsen 19 Unlock Company Profile
MBC Pharma 19 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Ribo Life Sciences 19 Unlock Company Profile
Avalo Therapeutics 18 Unlock Company Profile
City of Hope 18 Unlock Company Profile
Nuclera Nucleics 18 Unlock Company Profile
Moderna 18 Unlock Company Profile
Amgen 16 Unlock Company Profile
Delta-Fly Pharma 16 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Chemical 14 Unlock Company Profile
Daiichi Sankyo 14 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Gilead Sciences is the leading patent filer in nucleoside chemical synthesis. The company is engaged in the development and commercialisation of medicines for the treatment of cardiovascular, haematological and respiratory diseases, inflammation, liver diseases, and cancer. Emtricitabine (Emtriva), a synthetic nucleoside analogue of cytidine with anti-HIV activity developed by Gilead, has received approval in multiple geographies. The company sells its products through subsidiaries and distributors in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.

Johnson & Johnson and Merck are the other key patent filers on nucleoside chemical synthesis.

In terms of application diversity, AstraZeneca is the top company, followed by C. H. Boehringer Sohn and Epigenetics Pharma. By means of geographic reach, Delta-Fly Pharma holds the top position. Changzhou Fangyuan Pharmaceutical and Eisai stand 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.

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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.