Mapping the patent landscape of synthetic biology for fine chemical production pathways

Microb Biotechnol. 2016 Sep;9(5):687-95. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.12401. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


A goal of synthetic biology bio-foundries is to innovate through an iterative design/build/test/learn pipeline. In assessing the value of new chemical production routes, the intellectual property (IP) novelty of the pathway is important. Exploratory studies can be carried using knowledge of the patent/IP landscape for synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. In this paper, we perform an assessment of pathways as potential targets for chemical production across the full catalogue of reachable chemicals in the extended metabolic space of chassis organisms, as computed by the retrosynthesis-based algorithm RetroPath. Our database for reactions processed by sequences in heterologous pathways was screened against the PatSeq database, a comprehensive collection of more than 150M sequences present in patent grants and applications. We also examine related patent families using Derwent Innovations. This large-scale computational study provides useful insights into the IP landscape of synthetic biology for fine and specialty chemicals production.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products / metabolism*
  • Intellectual Property*
  • Metabolic Engineering / methods*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways*
  • Synthetic Biology / methods*


  • Biological Products