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Mapping the Technological Knowledge Landscape: The Case of Epigenetics

[ Vol. 11 , Issue. 4 ]


Chie Hoon Song, Janghyeok Yoon, Namuk Ko and Jeung-Whan Han   Pages 424 - 433 ( 10 )


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.


Cancer epigenetics, DNA methylation, epigenetics, histone deacetylase, intellectual property, review.


Research Center for Epigenome Regulation, School of Pharmacy, Sungkyunkwan University, 2066 Seobu-ro, Jangan-gu, Suwon 16419, South Korea.

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