Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft announced they will leverage their existing partnership mapping population-wide adaptive immune responses to diseases at scale to study COVID-19. Finding the relevant immune response signature may advance solutions to diagnose, treat, and prevent the disease, augmenting existing research efforts that primarily focus on the biology of the virus. These data will be made freely available to any researcher, public health official or organization around the world via an open data access portal.
“We can improve our collective understanding of COVID-19 by decoding the immune system’s response to the virus and the disease patterns that can be inferred from studying these data at the population level,” said Chad Robins, CEO and co-founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies, in a press release. “Immune response data may enable detection of the virus in infected people not showing symptoms and improve triaging of newly diagnosed patients, potentially solving two of the challenges we are facing in the current diagnostic paradigm.”
To generate immune response data, Adaptive will open enrollment in April to collect de-identified blood samples, using a LabCorp-enabled mobile phlebotomy service, from individuals diagnosed with or recovered from COVID-19 in a virtual clinical trial managed by Covance.
Immune cell receptors from these blood samples will be sequenced using Illumina platform technology and mapped to SARS-CoV-2-specific antigens that will have been confirmed by Adaptive’s proprietary immune medicine platform to induce an immune response. The immune response signature found from the initial discovery work and the initial set of samples will be uploaded to the open data access portal. Leveraging Microsoft’s hyperscale machine learning capabilities and the Azure cloud platform, the accuracy of the immune response signature will be continuously improved and updated online in real time as more trial samples are sequenced from the study.
To expedite the development and relevance of the immune response signature across the global population, the companies are seeking additional participation from institutions and research groups around the world to contribute blood samples to this open data initiative. Providence, a large health system with 51 hospitals, including the one near Seattle that treated the first U.S. COVID-19 patient, is an initial clinical collaborator.
“The solution to COVID-19 is not likely going to come from one person, one company or one country. This is a global issue, and it will be a global effort to solve it,” said Peter Lee, corporate vice president, AI and Research, Microsoft, in the statement. “Making critical information about the immune response accessible to the broader research community will help advance ongoing and new efforts to solve this global public health crisis, and we can accomplish this goal through our proven TCR-Antigen mapping partnership with Adaptive.”