Microsoft Launches Database to Aid COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Microsoft Launches Database to Aid COVID-19 Vaccine Development

 - Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies recently launched a database, ImmuneCODE, to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development.

The database contains information on T cells to specifically recognize COVID-19 antigens with speed and scale, according to a press release.

T cells contain information that could provide one consistent and trackable measure of the immune response. This could help experts diagnose and effectively manage COVID-19 from exposure and potentially offer an accurate assessment of immunity, Microsoft said.

The in-depth understanding may improve accuracy in the existing testing capabilities and provide an assessment of immunity. T cells may also provide severity of a patient’s illness, the length of any post-infection immunity period, and the potential efficacy of vaccines in development. 

“In just a few months, Adaptive and Microsoft intend to generate data for ImmuneCODE sufficient to accurately map how the adaptive immune system responds to SARS-CoV-2 from initial exposure through clearance by using our combined immune medicine platform and machine learning, potentially providing an accurate assessment of immunity,” Harlan Robins, chief scientific officer and co-founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies, said in the press release.

“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.”

In March, Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies expanded their existing partnership to use machine learning to map the immune system response to many different diseases, including infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and cancer, to study COVID-19.

Then at the beginning of May, the companies enrolled 1,000 participants across the US in a virtual clinical study, ImmuneRACE (Immune Response Action to COVID-19 Events), to map and measure immune response to COVID-19 virus.

The study will leverage Microsoft Azure’s hyperscale cloud and machine learning capabilities to refine the T cell response signature by extending the number of matches of COVID-19-related T cells to antigens and directly associating this T cell signature with disease and outcomes, Microsoft said.

ImmuneCODE will share views of the immune response to COVID-19 through data from the coronavirus patient blood samples. This data will accelerate vaccine and therapeutic development by answering important questions about the virus and uncover ways to safety reopen communities.

Peter Lee, corporate vice president, AI and Research, Microsoft noted that immune response data may augment what the companies had been learning to date to help determine who is at greater risk of developing more severe symptoms.

The data may also help with future containment efforts.

Currently, thousands of geographically and ethnically diverse patient blood samples from institutions around the world are being collected and analyzed alongside samples from ImmuneRACE.

“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 catalog and share how our adaptive immune system responds to viruses, including the novel virus that causes COVID-19,” said Lee. 

“Making these 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 news drugs and vaccines in the fight against this global health crisis.”

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