During war time, we come together. Collectively, tremendous progress has been made in the war against COVID-19. New tests, clinical trials, and public-private partnerships to enable solutions have been quickly mobilized to curb the impact of this pandemic.

If only it were enough. New information about the virus – and what we are learning about it – is breaking at a dizzying pace. We are learning that the disease may be far more prevalent than we originally realized, but significant issues remain with testing. We now know that the first cases in the U.S. could trace back to early February, and with the high rate of false positives and negatives with the most recent serology tests, we still have no reliable way to get an accurate picture of who has and has not been infected. In this marathon, we have a long way to go to achieve widespread and standardized access to testing, tracking and tracing, and to ensure efficacious therapeutic and vaccine approaches can be made available to everyone.

Earlier this week, I joined biotech colleagues for the Alexandria Summit/Duke-Margolis Webinar: COVID-19 Policy Forum 2020 to discuss how we can accelerate this effort. My message: we cannot afford to make this a linear process.

At Adaptive, we are contributing important information about the adaptive immune response to COVID-19 that can advance global efforts to better diagnose and treat this virus. On the diagnostic side, we are expanding our partnership with Microsoft to decode the immune system’s response to COVID-19. As we make progress in this effort, we will be making the data publicly available to help advance other solutions to address COVID-19.

While there has been great progress with PCR and serology tests, there are still both standardization and biological issues that are making it hard to understand how widespread the virus really is and who has truly developed immunity. We are hopeful that a cellular immune test may resolve some of these issues. This is critical for government entities to set policies to enable life to resume and the economy to reopen.

On the therapeutic side, we are partnering with Amgen to identify and develop therapeutic antibodies from the blood of patients who are actively fighting or have recently recovered from COVID-19. Like others, we think that neutralizing antibodies may be effective since this virus seems to mutate more slowly than other RNA viruses and mutated strains are genetically similar.

We have seen some early successes using convalescent plasma therapy to boost the ability of patients with severe cases of COVID-19 to fight off the infection, but unfortunately, it can’t be scaled, nor standardized. With Amgen, we are using our high-throughput way of screening immune cells to find the best antibodies or what we like to say, the Michael Jordan of antibodies. These could be used off-the-shelf to treat patients fighting the disease and to potentially prevent disease in those with heightened exposure, such as healthcare workers.

It’s early days, but we are already seeing some exciting results. I’m confident that we can deliver potent antibodies to Amgen in the coming months.

It has been amazing to see such an unprecedented level of collaboration. This is the biggest challenge any of us have ever faced. I tell my family, and my colleagues, that we must pace ourselves. We are in this for the long haul, but we’ll do it together.

Be well,

During this time of COVID-19, our communities – both local and global – are coming together in ways we’ve never witnessed before. Every evening, neighborhoods across Seattle and beyond stand outside and make noise to celebrate our healthcare workers on the front lines. Car manufacturers are assembling life-saving patient equipment. Volunteers are sewing masks by the thousands for their local hospitals. Professionally and personally, we are facing this challenge together.

Today, we are proud to announce an exciting new endeavor with our long-time partner Amgen to contribute a meaningful solution to this pandemic. Together, we are in a unique position to combine our expertise to create a specific type of antibody therapy that we think may make a big impact as society continues to grapple with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.

Neutralizing antibodies defend a healthy cell from a virus by interfering with the biological function of the virus. The combination of SARS-CoV-2 being highly contagious, slowly mutating, and completely new to the human race makes it uniquely well suited to respond to neutralizing antibodies.

Our immune medicine platform will focus on B cells responding to recent infection and screen tens of thousands of antibody secreting cells derived from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Through a custom computational workflow, Adaptive will select promising, naturally occurring, and fully human antibody candidates for Amgen to turn into a potential therapeutic. Amgen is a well-suited partner with their world-class antibody engineering and drug development capabilities.

At Adaptive, we are in the fortunate position to have an opportunity to make a meaningful difference by pursuing two separate but synergistic applications to combat COVID-19. Less than two weeks ago, we announced the extension of our partnership with Microsoft to find the relevant T-cell receptor signature for COVID-19, which may address some key diagnostic challenges. Study data will be made available to the global scientific community to help speed progress in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the disease. With this new Amgen partnership, we are extending our immune medicine platform to identify and characterize human neutralizing antibodies based on B-cell receptors.

Time is of the essence and our teams are already moving forward with a heightened sense of urgency around this important work. We have enjoyed a long partnership with Amgen and we are proud to work together as we face this challenge.

Stay well,