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COVID-19 Immune Response to be Mapped by Adaptive Biotechnologies, Microsoft

NEW YORK – Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft are expanding their existing partnership on mapping adaptive immune responses population-wide to include COVID-19, the companies said on Friday.

Beginning in April, Adaptive will collect de-identified blood samples from patients diagnosed with or recovered from COVID-19. It will sequence the samples and map the immune cell receptor profiles to antigens from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The partners will then upload the immune response signatures to an open-access data portal.

LabCorp, Illumina, and healthcare provider Providence are also joining as collaborators. A LabCorp-enabled mobile phlebotomy service will collect samples from individuals in a "virtual clinical trial" managed by LabCorp subsidiary Covance, the firms said in a statement. 

The partners said in a statement that they hope to improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the disease, while also "augmenting existing research efforts that primarily focus on the biology of the virus."

"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," Adaptive CEO and Cofounder Chad Robins said in a statement. "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 plan builds on an existing partnership between Microsoft and Adaptive, which are both based in the Seattle area, to map the genetics of the human immune system. Announced in 2018, the project's ultimate goal is to create a blood-based universal diagnostic test.

In January, a Providence hospital in Seattle became the first to treat a confirmed COVID-19 patient in the US. The region was one of the first in the US to get hit by the pandemic, with King County, which includes Seattle, reporting 562 confirmed cases and 56 deaths as of March 18.

The firms noted they are seeking additional partners from research groups and institutions worldwide to contribute blood samples.

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