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: recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs). 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

Recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs) is a key innovation area in the pharmaceutical industry

Recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs) are engineered structures that mimic the structure of natural viruses but lack the genetic material necessary for replication. They are designed by expressing one or more viral structural proteins in a host expression system, such as bacteria, yeast, insect cells, or mammalian cells, using recombinant DNA technology. These VLPs can serve various purposes, particularly in the fields of vaccinology and virology. Their safety and ability to induce a strong immune response make them a promising platform for the prevention and study of various infectious diseases.

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 130+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs).

Key players in recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs) – 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 recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs)

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 214 Unlock Company Profile
Merck 157 Unlock Company Profile
Sanofi 127 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 125 Unlock Company Profile
AstraZeneca 117 Unlock Company Profile
Bavarian Nordic 107 Unlock Company Profile
Grifols 94 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie Merieux Alliance 90 Unlock Company Profile
C. H. Boehringer Sohn 85 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 83 Unlock Company Profile
Pfizer 77 Unlock Company Profile
Baxter International 75 Unlock Company Profile
Valneva 60 Unlock Company Profile
GSK 58 Unlock Company Profile
E. Merck 47 Unlock Company Profile
Zoetis 46 Unlock Company Profile
Akamis Bio 44 Unlock Company Profile
Novartis 42 Unlock Company Profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 37 Unlock Company Profile
UniQure 36 Unlock Company Profile
German Cancer Research Center 28 Unlock Company Profile
iosBio Pharma 28 Unlock Company Profile
Apse 28 Unlock Company Profile
Xiamen Innovax Biotech 26 Unlock Company Profile
Genethon 24 Unlock Company Profile
Zydus Lifesciences 24 Unlock Company Profile
Danaher 24 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 23 Unlock Company Profile
I'rom Group 22 Unlock Company Profile
Meiji 21 Unlock Company Profile
CSL 20 Unlock Company Profile
US Department of Health and Human Services 18 Unlock Company Profile
EyeGene 18 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 18 Unlock Company Profile
IP Group 17 Unlock Company Profile
Profectus BioSciences 16 Unlock Company Profile
Kaketsuken 16 Unlock Company Profile
iNtRON Biotechnology 16 Unlock Company Profile
Sartorius 14 Unlock Company Profile
National Resilience 14 Unlock Company Profile
Redbiotec 14 Unlock Company Profile
Takara 13 Unlock Company Profile
AGC 13 Unlock Company Profile
Nitto Boseki 13 Unlock Company Profile
Calixar 13 Unlock Company Profile
Avir Green Hills Biotechnology 11 Unlock Company Profile
GE HealthCare Technologies 11 Unlock Company Profile
Bayer 11 Unlock Company Profile
Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore 10 Unlock Company Profile
Kuros Biosciences 10 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mitsubishi Chemical Group is one of the leading patent filers in recombinant virus-like particles (VLPs).  Mitsubishi Chemical (MCHC) is leading integrated chemical company based in Japan, and the MCHC Group includes four core operating companies, namely Mitsubishi Chemical, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Mitsubishi Plastics, and Mitsubishi Rayon. The group serves customers by using their chemistry-based technology platforms to develop a wide range of technologies and products in the fields of performance products, healthcare, and industrial materials. In February 2023, Mitsubishi Chemical Group announced that it will cease all its operations at Medicago, a Canadian biopharmaceutical company specializing in the research and development of new vaccines using plant-based virus-like particles (VLP) technology. Merck and Sanofi are some of the other key patent filers in recombinant VLPs.

In terms of application diversity, Kuros Biosciences leads the pack, while E. Merck and iosBio Pharma stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Mitsubishi Chemical Group held the top position, followed by UniQure and Grifols.

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.