Microsoft and Seattle-based biotech firm Adaptive Biotechnologies are now working together as part of a partnership seeking to map the human-immune response to COVID-19 in order to advance the understanding of the coronavirus that is wreaking havoc on the world’s population and its economy, the companies have announced.
The partnership is aimed at making data available to public health officials to improve diagnostics, better help triage patients based on their immune response to the coronavirus, and to advance the quest for a vaccine for COVID-19. Other companies assisting the effort include life-sciences company LabCorp., DNA-sequencing tech company Illumina and health care system Providence.
The data from the study will be made available to researchers and public-health organizations globally through an open-access portal, Microsoft officials say.
“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,” says Chad Robins, chief executive officer and co-founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies. “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.”
The companies participating in the study also are seeking participation from other institutions and research groups worldwide “to contribute blood samples to this open-data initiative. Providence, which operates 51 hospitals, including one in the Seattle area that treated the first U.S. COVID-19 patient, is an initial clinical collaborator, according to Microsoft.
“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," says Peter Lee, corporate vice president of AI and research at Redmond-based Microsoft. “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."
Institutions or collaborators with an interested in contributing blood samples for the study can direct inquiries to this email address.