Gene patents: a crowded IP field


Gareth Williams

Gene patents: a crowded IP field

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The development of gene technologies is still at a relatively early stage, with patent applications coming from research institutes and universities as well as industry. Gareth Williams has crunched the numbers.

Since the end of the first era of genome sequencing with the conclusion of the human genome project, the challenge facing the life sciences industry has been to apply our understanding to practical applications.

Our growing knowledge of the human genome allows us to pinpoint a specific genetic variation in a specific patient, which can predict future disease, or identify sensitivity to certain drugs. We can also optimise genes and proteins for particular applications and swap and engineer protein domains to open up new uses.

While the markets for certain genomic technologies—such as for sequencing technology—are already showing levels of maturity others, such as synthetic biology, are only just starting out. We analysed patent filings over the last decade for sequencing technology, personalised medicine and synthetic biology to examine where innovation is coming from, where it’s going and what this can tell us about each technology’s markets (see Table 1).

gene patents; human genome project;