Researchers often neglect to search antibody patents because it seems complex and due to the perception that there is nothing to be gained from it. Dangerous thinking!
Antibody search, with the right tools, is in fact quite easy. And the gain is compelling: searching patents is the best way to learn about the competitive landscape because patents are published before scientific papers.
All antibodies have significant sequence homology to each other since they all have the Immunoglobulin (Ig) domain. The functional part of an antibody search query, its uniqueness, comes from short (5-20 amino acid) loops in the Ig fold called Complementarity Determining Regions (CDRs). Determining the similarity between the CDRs of different antibodies is the key to proper antibody searching.
This short video shows how easy it is to do antibody similarity searching in GenomeQuest.