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: phenotypic drug screening. 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

Phenotypic drug screening is a key innovation area in the pharmaceutical industry

Phenotypic drug screening is a drug discovery approach that involves testing compounds for their ability to produce a specific cellular or organismal phenotype, such as a desired therapeutic effect or a change in disease-related phenotype. The approach contrasts with target-based drug discovery, where researchers focus on specific molecular targets, such as proteins or enzymes, associated with a disease. Phenotypic drug screening has gained importance in recent years because it can identify novel drug candidates and potential therapeutic effects without prior knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms.

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 140+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of phenotypic drug screening.

Key players in phenotypic drug screening – 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 phenotypic drug screening

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NantWorks 116 Unlock Company Profile
BioNTech 95 Unlock Company Profile
Myriad Genetics 70 Unlock Company Profile
Codexis 59 Unlock Company Profile
Agilent Technologies 57 Unlock Company Profile
Thermo Fisher Scientific 57 Unlock Company Profile
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 50 Unlock Company Profile
Summit Therapeutics 44 Unlock Company Profile
Axcella Health 43 Unlock Company Profile
TRON 42 Unlock Company Profile
Curevac 42 Unlock Company Profile
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals 41 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 41 Unlock Company Profile
Nant 40 Unlock Company Profile
Mayo Clinic 39 Unlock Company Profile
Baxter International 33 Unlock Company Profile
Ginkgo Bioworks 31 Unlock Company Profile
Quest Diagnostics 30 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 30 Unlock Company Profile
Merck 27 Unlock Company Profile
PerkinElmer 26 Unlock Company Profile
Psomagen 25 Unlock Company Profile
SureGene 25 Unlock Company Profile
Zoetis 24 Unlock Company Profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 23 Unlock Company Profile
BioAtla 22 Unlock Company Profile
HDT Global 21 Unlock Company Profile
Native Microbials 21 Unlock Company Profile
Exact Sciences 20 Unlock Company Profile
Biogen 18 Unlock Company Profile
Globeimmune 18 Unlock Company Profile
ioGenetics 18 Unlock Company Profile
Biodesix 17 Unlock Company Profile
Peaccel 17 Unlock Company Profile
10X Genomics 16 Unlock Company Profile
NSABP Foundation 15 Unlock Company Profile
Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore 14 Unlock Company Profile
Amicus Therapeutics 14 Unlock Company Profile
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 14 Unlock Company Profile
Orig3N 13 Unlock Company Profile
InVitae 13 Unlock Company Profile
PersImmune 13 Unlock Company Profile
Pronutria Biosciences 12 Unlock Company Profile
Endocanna Health 12 Unlock Company Profile
South Dakota Board Of Regents 11 Unlock Company Profile
OpGen 9 Unlock Company Profile
Veracyte 9 Unlock Company Profile
Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities 9 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 9 Unlock Company Profile
PYC Therapeutics 9 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

NantWorks is one of the leading patent filers in phenotypic drug screening. NantWorks is a conglomerate of healthcare and technology companies founded by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. The organization encompasses a wide range of healthcare-related initiatives, including cancer research, genomics, and data-driven healthcare solutions. NantWorks uses phenotype drug screening process to predict the effectiveness of a treatment for a disease or disorder of a subject having a particular set of biomarkers.

BioNTech and Myriad Genetics are some of the other key patent filers in phenotypic drug screening.

In terms of application diversity, Axcella Health leads the pack, while Pronutria Biosciences and Curevac stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Axcella Health held the top position, followed by Curevac and Baxter International.

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

This content was updated on 25 January 2024

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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.