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It’s all patently scientific

Being named as an inventor on key patent publications is an undeniable mark of a scientist’s contribution to the drug discovery effort.

We asked Sygnature’s Andy Novak and Joe Hill-Cousins to share their thoughts on patents, intellectual property and beyond…

A lit lightbulb

Inventorship for medicinal chemists signifies a key contribution to the design of chemical matter that ultimately may make a difference to patients, and as such goes well beyond simply making novel molecules.

Working in the drug discovery space at Sygnature, this is clear demonstration of the collaborative nature of the customer relationship and the value add that our experienced drug hunters bring.

From an individual scientist perspective, it’s both motivational and self-affirming – a clear win-win scenario, aside from the legal requirement to correctly assign inventorship claims.

(Note that we have a clear company policy at Sygnature that the intellectual prioperty is 100% owned by the customer.)

Patent timescales and trends

It typically takes 18 months for patent applications to go from initial submission to publication. As projects and the chemical matter within them progress, the patent landscape closely follows, with initial filings spilt, combined, or discontinued, and what makes it to publication is often just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2021 alone, 19 patents were published in collaboration with our customers, with 35 of our scientists listed as inventors. This was up almost 50% on Sygnature patents published in 2020 (13 patents).

As you might expect, many of our 2021 patents covered hot research fields in the immunological, oncology and anti-viral therapeutic areas.

In terms of biological targets, of course kinases and GPCRs featured, but we also worked with a variety of different targets classes. We even included some macrocycles to demonstrate our synthetic prowess!

At Sygnature, we actively support the preparation and submission of our customers’ patent filings.

We use our deep knowledge of the project’s novel chemical matter and biological application to map out and execute a robust patent strategy, often working directly with a variety of external patent attorney specialists.

The World Intellectual Property Office headquarters in Geneva

The World Intellectual Property Office headquarters in Geneva

Having done this numerous times, our scientists appreciate the data and formatting required to rapidly complete a filing and incorporate this into our workflows to create patent-ready data as standard.

The value of routine reviews

In addition to authoring patents, we routinely review the patent literature internally with a dedicated in-house team. This team is responsible for reviewing new patents published every Thursday (via the World Intellectual Property Office) and selecting key examples to share with the rest of the Sygnature scientific group.

As well as keeping us informed of any developments on our own projects, the review provides a regular snapshot of key therapeutic areas and targets being investigated by pharma, biotech and charities, ensuring our competitive edge is maintained, and in turn adding further value to our customer projects.

This is a highly rewarding exercise for the team, continually broadening their scientific horizons and allowing them to engage with science outside of their day-to-day project work.

It also adds another dimension of teamwork and helps maintain our collaborative working atmosphere, which is important in a fast-growing company.

The patent review is another great way to highlight Sygnature’s achievements and showcase the contribution our scientists make to customer research projects.

2022 is already shaping up to be another busy year as we generate further inventions for our customers and collaborators!

And if you’d like to work with us too, you can contact us via the form below.