Data mining patented antibody sequences

MAbs. 2021 Jan-Dec;13(1):1892366. doi: 10.1080/19420862.2021.1892366.


The patent literature should reflect the past 30 years of engineering efforts directed toward developing monoclonal antibody therapeutics. Such information is potentially valuable for rational antibody design. Patents, however, are designed not to convey scientific knowledge, but to provide legal protection. It is not obvious whether antibody information from patent documents, such as antibody sequences, is useful in conveying engineering know-how, rather than as a legal reference only. To assess the utility of patent data for therapeutic antibody engineering, we quantified the amount of antibody sequences in patents destined for medicinal purposes and how well they reflect the primary sequences of therapeutic antibodies in clinical use. We identified 16,526 patent families covering major jurisdictions (e.g., US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and World Intellectual Property Organization) that contained antibody sequences. These families held 245,109 unique antibody chains (135,397 heavy chains and 109,712 light chains) that we compiled in our Patented Antibody Database (PAD, We find that antibodies make up a non-trivial proportion of all patent amino acid sequence depositions (e.g., 11% of USPTO Full Text database). Our analysis of the 16,526 families demonstrates that the volume of patent documents with antibody sequences is growing, with the majority of documents classified as containing antibodies for medicinal purposes. We further studied the 245,109 antibody chains from patent literature to reveal that they very well reflect the primary sequences of antibody therapeutics in clinical use. This suggests that the patent literature could serve as a reference for previous engineering efforts to improve rational antibody design.

Keywords: Patents; data mining; therapeutic Antibodies.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / chemistry*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Data Mining*
  • Databases, Protein*
  • Drug Design
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / chemistry*
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / therapeutic use
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains / chemistry*
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains / therapeutic use
  • Intellectual Property*
  • Legislation, Drug*
  • Patents as Topic*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains