Background: Epigenetics is a biomedical novelty in drug design and disease
control whose mechanisms play a significant role in transferring environmental signals
to determine patterns of gene expression. Systematic identification of the main trends in
epigenetics patenting activity provides insights into fundamental building blocks of this
research field and policy guidance to funding agencies.
Objective: The review aims at providing a comprehensive overview of the research and
development trend in epigenetics by mapping the knowledge structure in patent landscape.
Methods: Citation-based patent network analysis was performed to visualize the technological
landscape. We focus on identifying the structure of the knowledge networks to study the technological
trajectories. Patents that play an integral part in the dissemination and bridging of the technical
knowledge are located and ranked. The latent topics in patent documents are highlighted by means of a
topic modeling technique.
Results: Visualization of the patent network results in four main clusters. The first two clusters deal with
the inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC). The third cluster covers inventions related to DNA methylation,
which represents an epigenetic signaling tool that cells use to control gene expression. The fourth
cluster encompasses computing systems and data mining techniques for identifying combinations of genetic
and epigenetic attributes related to health and lifestyle improvements.
Conclusion: We are in the growth period of gathering knowledge on various mechanisms of epigenetic
regulation. There is enormous potential for improving healthcare through better understanding of the interrelationships
between epigenetic control of gene expression and compounds that trigger these modifications.