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: nucleotide analogues. 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

Nucleotide analogues is a key innovation area in the pharmaceutical industry

Nucleotide analogues are chemical compounds that mimic the structure of naturally occurring nucleotides, which are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. These analogues can be used for various purposes in molecular biology, genetics, and medicine. They are often employed for their ability to interfere with DNA and RNA synthesis, replication, and repair processes. There are several mechanisms by which nucleoside analogues inhibit viral replication, including competitive inhibition of the viral polymerase and DNA chain termination. There are many antiviral nucleoside analogues that block the 3' hydroxyl group of the deoxyribonucleic acid, which results in a failure to elongate the nascent DNA molecule. Antiviral nucleoside analogues such as negative enantiomers of natural nucleosides interfere with replication partly due to steric hindrance when they are taken up by the viral polymerase or added to DNA strands. Analogues of nucleosides that are phosphorylated at the 5' site are often called nucleotide analogues.

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 170+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of nucleotide analogues.

Key players in nucleotide analogues – 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 nucleotide analogues

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Gilead Sciences 565 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 464 Unlock Company Profile
Merck 315 Unlock Company Profile
Illumina 305 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 285 Unlock Company Profile
Riboscience 134 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 132 Unlock Company Profile
SomaLogic 126 Unlock Company Profile
Ionis Pharmaceuticals 122 Unlock Company Profile
NuCana 96 Unlock Company Profile
Agilent Technologies 94 Unlock Company Profile
Wave Life Sciences 72 Unlock Company Profile
AstraZeneca 70 Unlock Company Profile
Medivir 68 Unlock Company Profile
Pacific Biosciences of California 57 Unlock Company Profile
Otsuka 57 Unlock Company Profile
Geron 54 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 52 Unlock Company Profile
Changzhou Fangyuan Pharmaceutical 50 Unlock Company Profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 49 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 47 Unlock Company Profile
Bonac 41 Unlock Company Profile
Inner Mongolia Puyin Pharmaceutical 36 Unlock Company Profile
DNA Script 36 Unlock Company Profile
ChemGenes 34 Unlock Company Profile
Qiagen 34 Unlock Company Profile
Muscle Pharm 34 Unlock Company Profile
Ligand Pharmaceuticals 33 Unlock Company Profile
Calithera Biosciences 33 Unlock Company Profile
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals 32 Unlock Company Profile
Eisai 32 Unlock Company Profile
LGC 31 Unlock Company Profile
Pfizer 30 Unlock Company Profile
Idenix (Cayman) 30 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 29 Unlock Company Profile
Sichuan Kelun Industrial Group 26 Unlock Company Profile
Nuclera Nucleics 26 Unlock Company Profile
Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals 26 Unlock Company Profile
Ipsen 21 Unlock Company Profile
Cellix Bio 21 Unlock Company Profile
Novartis 21 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Ribo Life Sciences 19 Unlock Company Profile
MBC Pharma 19 Unlock Company Profile
Moderna 18 Unlock Company Profile
Avalo Therapeutics 18 Unlock Company Profile
NEW HOPE, CITY OF 18 Unlock Company Profile
BrightGene Bio-Medical Technology 17 Unlock Company Profile
Delta-Fly Pharma 17 Unlock Company Profile
Amgen 16 Unlock Company Profile
LCB Pharma 16 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Gilead Sciences is one of the leading patent filers in nucleotide analogues. Nucleotide analogues have been a significant focus for Gilead Sciences, particularly in the treatment of viral infections. Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, marketed under various brand names (such as Viread), is a nucleotide analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) used in the treatment of HIV and chronic hepatitis B. Remdesivir is a nucleotide analogue that garnered significant attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remdesivir received emergency use authorization (EUA) for the treatment of COVID-19 in some regions and was granted full approval in others. Gilead Sciences markets remdesivir under the brand name Veklury for the treatment of COVID-19 in certain circumstances.

Johnson & Johnson and Merck are some of the other key patent filers in nucleotide analogues.

In terms of application diversity, City of New Hope leads the pack, while AstraZeneca and Calithera Biosciences stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, SomaLogic held the top position, followed by AstraZeneca and Eisai

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.