Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft launch Covid-19 database

Alex Smith
By Alex Smith on 15 June 2020
Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft launch Covid-19 database
Adaptive Biotechnologies [YouTube]

Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft have launched ImmuneCODE, an open database that shares a detailed view of the immune response to Covid-19 based on de-identified data taken from blood samples from thousands of patients from around the world. 

The database contains information on the diverse set of T cells shown to recognise the unique identifying antigens of the Covid-19 virus. T cells are the immune system’s first responders, quickly multiplying and circulating in the blood to attack a virus. The information taken from these T cells could provide a trackable measure of the immune response to the pathogen, helping in the diagnosis and management of the disease, as well as potentially offering an accurate assessment of immunity. 

“In just a few months, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft intend to generate data for ImmuneCODE sufficient to accurately map how the adaptive immune system responds to Covid-19 from initial exposure through clearance by using our combined immune medicine platform and machine learning, potentially providing an accurate assessment of immunity,” said Harlan Robins, chief scientific officer and co-founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies. “The scale and precision with which we are now able to decode the T cell response to the virus may fundamentally change our ability to recover from this pandemic and the way in which all viruses are studied in the future.”

Blood samples are being collected from geographically and ethnically diverse patients to be analysed. Samples have also been taken from the companies’ ImmuneRACE study, which has enrolled 1,000 participants from across the USA to discover how immune systems detect and respond to the virus. The view of the T cell response will continually be refined using Microsoft Azure’s hyperscale cloud and machine learning capabilities, which will allow the number of matches of Covid-19-related T cells to antigens to be extended and directly associated with disease outcomes.

“Adaptive Biotechnologies’ sequencing of T-cells sets up an extremely large but manageable machine learning problem, and thus makes it possible, for the first time, to catalogue and share how our adaptive immune system responds to viruses, including the novel virus that causes Covid-19,” said Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft research and incubation. “Making this data freely available to the global research community through the ImmuneCODE database will deepen our collective understanding of the human immune response and thereby help researchers accelerate the development of new drugs and vaccines in the fight against this global health crisis.”

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