In hopes of developing a new test for COVID-19, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft have launched ImmuneRace, a virtual clinical study that is part of an initiative to map and measure the immune response to the disease.
The study is set to enroll 1,000 participants in select U.S. metropolitan areas impacted by COVID-19, according to the companies. LabCorp's Covance drug development business will manage the collection of blood samples and nose and throat swabs from participants in their homes.
As part of the study, the companies will measure the presence of T cells in the blood. Adaptive and Microsoft have been mapping and measuring the immune response of T cells to many diseases and are now working together to assess T-cell response to COVID-19. The firms said that deidentified data from the study will be made available for free to public health officials, academia, and industry to help accelerate solutions to the pandemic.
The companies had announced in March that they would expand their existing partnership to use machine learning to map the immune system to many different diseases, including infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and cancer, at scale to study COVID-19. The information obtained from ImmuneRace participants, including how the immune system identifies the virus and how people are responding to it, will be integrated with data obtained from samples provided by hospitals and other institutions across the globe.
Using Microsoft's machine-learning capabilities and its Azure cloud platform, the accuracy of the immune response signature will be continuously improved and updated online in real time as more study samples are sequenced, according to the companies. Illumina and Providence are also participating in the project.
Two types of tests for COVID-19 are currently in use. The first type is the polymerase chain-reaction (PCR) test, which indicates the presence of the live virus from a nose or throat swab. The second is the serology test, which measures the presence of antibodies in the blood to indicate exposure to and potential immunity against the virus. However, Microsoft and Adaptive said they believe a third type of test is possible.
Such a test could potentially help address current testing challenges, enabling complementary or alternative diagnostic testing for individuals with known exposures or symptoms; the ability to triage patients and inform treatment strategies based on risk; and ongoing immunity surveillance testing of the population to inform decisions on restrictions, according to the firms.