Microsoft Corp. and Seattle biotech company Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. on Thursday launched a database designed to provide public health agencies and researchers with population-level information about patients' immune response to COVID-19.
The database, dubbed ImmuneCODE, provides researchers with information about T cells—a key part of immune response—and how they respond to the virus, from "initial exposure through clearance," Harlan Robins, Adaptive Biotechnologies' co-founder and chief scientific officer, said in a statement.
Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies officials said they plan to update the database as they continue to sequence blood samples. Adaptive Biotechnologies sequences T cells, and researchers from the companies apply Microsoft's machine learning capabilities to analyze the data.
The data is based on de-identified blood samples from organizations including Providence in Renton, Wash., the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid and Università di Bologna in Italy. The database will also incorporate information from a clinical study Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft launched in May, called ImmuneRACE.
Adaptive Biotechnologies is planning to enroll 1,000 participants from across the U.S. for the ImmuneRACE, study.
T cells play a broad role in immunity, attacking infections and stimulating B cells to produce antibodies.
Many discussions about COVID-19 immunity to date have focused on detecting the presence of antibodies, which could signal immunity after a prior infection.
A better understanding of T cells could provide insight into the severity of a patient's illness or the length of a post-infection immunity period, according to the companies. That could inform development of new COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.
"Making these data freely available to the global research community through the ImmuneCODE database will deepen our collective understanding of the human immune response," Peter Lee, corporate vice president at Microsoft Research and Incubation, said in a statement.
In addition to making the data publicly available, Adaptive Biotechnologies also plans to use data from ImmuneCODE to develop its own diagnostic based on T cell response to COVID-19.
The ImmuneCODE database builds on a partnership Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies entered into in 2018 to map the human immune system. The companies' ultimate goal is to "create a universal blood test that reads a person's immune system to detect a wide variety of diseases," Microsoft's Lee said at the time.