Fighting coronavirus

Fighting Coronavirus

Innovation is one of humanity's best tools to fight the threat of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Technologies that have been developed in response to earlier pandemics, e.g. the HIV pandemic and the influenza pandemic of 1968, can already save lives today. Massive R&D investments are now being directed towards developing new technology responses to the virus, and the leap in COVID-19 related innovations is reflected in every imaginable sector from pharmaceuticals to disinfectants and from IT diagnostics to smart furniture.

Patents play an important role in this context. They not only create incentives for companies and universities to invest in research, but also provide inventors with a rich source of technical information, often published nowhere else. Indeed, all patent applications worldwide are disclosed and made easily accessible to the public, which enables scientists and entrepreneurs to tap into a vast source of knowledge and inspiration to develop new inventions.

The EPO is committed to share with the public the most advanced patent information and knowledge on technologies which are useful in combating the virus or treating the disease it causes, fulfilling our vision that our work will contribute to a safer, smarter and more sustainable world. For this purpose, EPO patent examiners who are experts in the technologies directed to the fight against coronavirus infections, together with our expert patent analysts, have created a variety of search statements to help scientists identify the most relevant documents in these technical fields.

These search strategies are especially suited to run on the EPO's free to use online patent search interface: Espacenet. This public database contains more than 120 million published patent applications from more than 100 intellectual property authorities from around the world. These documents disclose inventions, the patents for which may or may not be in force at that time or in a particular territory. The EPO provides online training on how to use and make the most of Espacenet.

The EPO already delivers comprehensive patent searches for applications in all areas of technology in 4,4 months on average. For applicants who require a fast track patent procedure, regardless of the technology they are developing, the EPO offers accelerated prosecution of European patent applications free of charge. Applications will be automatically accelerated if a third party files observations.

Vaccines

Vaccine

Our patent examiners have prepared these searches related to patents or patent applications for vaccines against coronaviruses which you can explore for yourself:

  • All vaccines against coronaviruses
    This search statement provides an overview of vaccines specifically directed against coronaviruses or coronaviruses proteins. The limitation to vaccines is achieved by the classes A61K39/215 (vaccine against coronavirus) or C12N2770/20034 (coronavirus component as a vaccine).

  • Live attenuated or inactivated vaccines
    In this category of vaccines, the immune response against the coronavirus is induced by a pharmaceutical composition comprising a full virus that has been rendered inactive or attenuated, for example by chemical treatment or genetic manipulation.

  • Virus-like particles
    In this category of vaccines virus-like particles (VLPs ) are used. Virus-like particles are comparable to viruses but do not contain genetic information. They correspond to an empty shell that contains a coronavirus protein. The absence of genetic information abolishes the risk of viral replication and propagation.

  • Viral vectors as vaccines
    In this category of vaccines, a virus that is non-pathogenic for man, for example an adenovirus, has been modified to express a coronavirus protein. Viral vectors expressing foreign proteins are widely used to induce a strong immune response against various pathogens, including viruses.

  • Nucleic acid-based vaccines
    In this category of vaccines, a nucleic acid molecule encoding a protein of a coronavirus, for example the spike protein of SARS CoV-2, is introduced into a host, optionally delivered in a formulation comprising liposomes. The nucleic acid is often modified to improve the level and duration of expression of the immunogen in human cells.

  •  Antigen-presenting cells
    In this category of vaccines, antigen-presenting cells (APCs), including macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs), are used to present coronavirus protein fragments on their surface.

  • Nanoparticles
    In this category of vaccines, particles that are formulated with a coronavirus protein or nucleic acid are used. Such particles are readily internalized into immune cells. Nanoparticles can be organic-based, for example liposomes or polymeric nanoparticles, or inorganic-based such as gold nanoparticles.

  • Adjuvanted vaccines
    In this category of vaccines, additional molecules are introduced to potentiate the immune response to the coronavirus protein or nucleic acid.

  • Administration route
    There are numerous possible routes of administration. Vaccines are often administered subcutaneously or intramuscularly; however other routes such as intranasal, mucosal or oral administration can also be used against coronavirus infection.

Patent analytics gives a deeper dive into the patent landscape. Our patent analysts have created a spreadsheet containing all the search strategies, datasets for vaccines against coronavirus patents and additional statistics in one place for you to download. You can also run the search strategies on your own platform or analyse the datasets yourself.

Overview of candidate therapies for COVID-19

Candidate therapies

The following queries provide an overview of small organic-molecule/peptide based therapies for coronavirus, resulting from the intersection of key-word search terms for the disease and the IPC and CPC classes A61K31, A61K38 and A61K45/06 for the compounds. Antibodies and nucleic acids are not included in this analysis, see the fourth accordion below: “Nucleic acids and antibodies to fight coronavirus”.


For a general overview of candidate therapies for diseases caused by coronaviruses in general, see here:


Patent analytics gives a deeper dive into the patent landscape. Our patent analysts have created a spreadsheet containing all the search strategies and datasets for patents for candidate therapies for fighting diseases caused by coronaviruses, as well as additional statistics in one place for you to download. You can also run the search strategies on your own platform or analyse the datasets yourself.

Candidate antiviral and symptomatic therapeutics

Antiviral

Candidate antiviral therapeutics

The following section contains a selection of small organic-molecule/peptide based antiviral drug candidates with potential activity against SARS-CoV-2. Because research is rapidly evolving, this list is non-exhaustive. The hits retrieved for a specific query contain patent families relating to the specific drug and also to drugs with a similar chemical structure which are classified in the same class. This is a consequence of the “OR” operator between the classes and key-words used.

Candidate symptomatic therapeutics

The following section contains a selection of small organic-molecule/peptide based drug candidates which may potentially have a beneficial effect on the symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 in infected patients. Because research is rapidly evolving, this list is non-exhaustive. The hits retrieved for a specific query contain patent families relating to the specific drug and also to drugs with a similar chemical structure which are classified in the same class. This is a consequence of the “OR” operator between the classes and key-words used. (Each of the listed drug candidates includes a hyperlink to Espacenet and the search statement)


Patent analytics gives a deeper dive into the patent landscape. Our patent analysts have created a spreadsheet containing all the search strategies and datasets for patents for antiviral and symptomatic therapeutics for fighting coronavirus, as well as additional statistics in one place for you to download. You can also run the search strategies on your own platform or analyse the datasets yourself.

Nucleic acids and antibodies to fight coronavirus

Nucleic acid

Nucleic acids to treat coronavirus infections

The following section identifies classes of nucleic acid molecules that interfere with the coronavirus infection or mediate the immune response induced by the viral infection. Antisense, small interfering RNA or nucleic acids that associate with a nuclease (CRISPR/Cas) directly inactivate the viral expression and/or replication. Aptamers bind to and inactivate viral or cellular proteins, thereby inhibiting coronavirus infection. The immunomodulatory nucleic acid do not act directly on the virus but modulate the immune anti-viral response. (Each of the listed classes of nucleic acid molecules includes a hyperlink to Espacenet and the search statement)

Antibodies against coronaviruses

The following query identifies antibodies against coronaviruses and their use in therapy. These antibodies inhibit either receptor binding and/or viral entry or induce the elimination of infected cells.


Patent analytics gives a deeper dive into the patent landscape. Our patent analysts have created a spreadsheet containing all the search strategies and datasets for patents for nucleic acids and antibodies for fighting coronavirus, as well as additional statistics in one place for you to download. You can also run the search strategies on your own platform or analyse the datasets yourself.

Diagnostics – Protein and nucleic acid assays

Diagnostics – Protein and nucleic acid assays

The following queries provide an overview of analytical assays for the diagnosis of all kinds of coronavirus infections not limited to SARS-CoV-2. The diagnosis is based on the detection of viral proteins or nucleic acids in samples isolated from humans or animals. All searches have been carried out combining the relevant and specific patent classifications and keywords.

Nucleic acids analyses

The following section contains a selection of tests based on the analysis of coronavirus by various nucleic acid based technologies, including hybridization with virus specific probes, amplification and detection of the viral genome or its sequencing for allowing the identification of virus specific sequences. The queries combine the IPC and CPC classes C12Q1/68 and C12Q1/70 with diagnostic and virus specific keywords.

Immunological analyses

The following section contains a selection of methodologies to detect viral proteins in human or animal samples via binding assays. The selection is based on targets, types and preparation of assays or the nature of the assays themselves. The queries mainly combine specific G01N33 IPC and CPC classes with keywords.

Patent analytics gives a deeper dive into the patent landscape. Our patent analysts have created a spreadsheet containing all the search strategies and datasets for patents for protein and nucleic acid assays as well as additional statistics in one place for you to download. You can also run the search strategies on your own platform or analyse the datasets yourself.

Diagnostics – Analytical protocols

Diagnostics – Analytical protocols

This section includes apparatus and devices for the diagnosis of coronavirus infection or for monitoring the symptoms associated with the infection in patients. It also includes computer implemented technologies that support the practitioner in the diagnosis of the infection. All searches have been carried out combining the relevant and specific patent classifications and keywords.

The following queries contain a selection of devices for isolating and analysing samples from the environment and/or the patient to determine the presence of the coronavirus.

Sampling from the environment or from the patient 

This section includes techniques for taking samples from surfaces, liquids and gas for detecting virus particles. It further includes methods and instruments for taking biological samples, in particular saliva or sputum (combination of the CPC classes A61B10 and A61B10/0051 with keywords related to (corona) virus), and the separation or trapping of (corona) virus with ultrafiltration membranes (combination of the CPC subgroup B01D61/145 with several keyword related to (corona) virus).

Devices to analyse samples

This section includes devices for analysis of the samples and for supporting diagnostics. This includes apparatus and methods for the automation of the detection of viruses, specific laboratory and point of care devices useful in the detection of coronaviruses using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), immunoassays and/or spectrometry. The focus is on the device specifics rather than the chemistry or sensors used for the detection. 

Point of care devices, or "lab-on-a-chip", or digital microfluidics use small containers into which the sample is introduced in the field or at home.

For polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods to amplify nucleic acid molecules it is in general necessary to cycle the sample between three different temperatures, for these methods so-called thermocyclers are used.

Methods and devices for optical analysis (G01N21) of blood samples for direct imaging or detecting coronaviruses often involve fluorescence techniques, wherein the samples are excited by light of specific wavelengths and their fluorescent response is analysed to determine the presence and specific type of viruses.  

Microscopy

The following queries relate to the usage of microscopy in the context of the new coronavirus and related diseases. They are useful for in vitro analysis including diagnosis. Special queries are provided for using fluorescence and excitation of samples and tissues by ultraviolet light.  

Imaging, tomography, x-ray, ultrasound and endoscopy 

The following section relates to medical in vivo imaging, in particular of cardiovascular or pulmonary tissues, which are most heavily affected by COVID-19. This includes X-ray and ultrasound technologies by either using apparatus for radiation diagnostic (CPC group A61B6), or by the use of ultrasonic, sonic or infrasonic waves (CPC group A61B8), as well as instruments for performing medical examinations of the interior cavities of a patient's body by visual or photographic inspection (CPC group A61B1). 

Diagnostic medical devices

This section relates to diagnostic medical devices (CPC group A61B5) which detect the most common symptoms of SARS-CoV-2, either specifically in the context of virus detection, or in the context of so-called remote monitoring, which allows for symptom detection of individuals or large groups for instance when they are quarantined. 

This section further includes search statements directed to instruments for auscultation (e.g. stethoscopes), in particular for detecting lung or respiration noise in the context of coronaviruses.  

Patent analytics gives a deeper dive into the patent landscape. Our patent analysts have created a spreadsheet containing all the search strategies and datasets for patents for protein and nucleic acid assays as well as additional statistics in one place for you to download. You can also run the search strategies on your own platform or analyse the datasets yourself.

The use of the EPO’s website, downloads, data and information tools are subject to the EPO’s standard terms and conditions. See especially the terms of use for Espacenet.

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