Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field, involving the use of computer science, maths and statistics to compile, analyse and interpret biological data.

Because the analysis of the data is carried out by computer, it is often called in silico biology, and the processing power of modern computer technology is such that vast amounts of raw biological data can be quickly analysed to produce a wide variety of biologically useful information. For example, bioinformatics tools are applied to sequence alignment (DNA & protein), gene prediction & regulation, disease diagnosis & treatment, protein structure prediction, and drug discovery & design, to name just a few.

Bioinformatics algorithms were originally written to interrogate genomic DNA sequences to identify candidate genes for assessing the evolutionary relationship between genes and proteins from different species. However, the field has advanced in recent years, such that software is now being developed which can recognise patterns in the data (e.g. genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic & metabolomic), often using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). In addition, bioinformatics software is available for analysing complex biological networks, such as gene regulatory networks, metabolic pathways, and protein-protein interaction networks in an attempt to better understand the underlying biology involved, such that new and improved disease diagnostics and treatments can be developed, and novel drugs designed.

Patenting bioinformatics is an increasingly challenging field, not least because of the requirement by the patent attorney and the patent office examiner to have a detailed understanding of both the biological data itself (both the input biology and also the output results), and also the manner in which the algorithm processes the data. However, given the power of bioinformatics software that is now available, and the value of the industry, it is clear that obtaining patent protection for these computer-implemented inventions is increasingly important.

We handle a large number of patent cases in the field of bioinformatics, and we have developed significant expertise in this area, getting challenging cases allowed. Our interdisciplinary bioinformatics team of computer scientists and life science specialists has gained a deserved reputation for providing clients with a high quality service on bioinformatics subject matter, combining considerable technical expertise and hands-on experience with specialist legal knowledge. In particular, we know how to convince the EPO that bioinformatics algorithms bring about a technical effect, which is required in Europe.

Our attorneys have worked on a wide variety of bioinformatics cases, for example computer-based systems used for:

  • prioritising DNA variants
  • classifying tissues as belonging to certain diseased tissues
  • identifying new treatment options for patients based on various omics data
  • predicting the likely outcome for immune therapy of a cancer relying on analysis of omics data from tumours
  • predicting drug responses from cell line genomics
  • generating synthetic digital genomic datasets
  • predicting traits from the genome
  • determining genomic health risks

We also handle cases relating to genomic, metabolomics and microbiomic search engines, and platform technologies for the visual synthesis of genomic, metabolomics and microbiomic data.

‘Venner Shipley are truly irreplaceable for us and are an absolutely integral part of what we do. Their attention to detail and focus is peerless. Their understanding of and expertise in the science we are developing is invaluable. The firm is utterly unique and that cannot be overstated.’

Legal 500, 2023