Countless people and organizations around the world – from those on the front lines, to those in the lab, to those in the home office – are in a race. Not in a race against each other, but in a race to find solutions to better detect, treat, and contain COVID-19 and ultimately, allow society to reopen safely.
This week, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft launched ImmuneRACE, a virtual clinical study to decode patients’ immune response to COVID-19. If you are currently fighting, have recently recovered or have been exposed to the virus, your immune system holds important clues about how to detect and fight this disease. By capturing these important lessons learned, we can potentially develop new diagnostics and therapeutics that leverage our bodies’ natural immune response.
Right now, the world needs more reliable testing for COVID-19. Currently there are two types of tests. The first is a PCR test that looks at the virus itself through a nasal swab, and the second is a serology-based blood test that looks at the presence of antibodies in your immune system. But there is potentially a third type of test that looks at a different component of the immune system.
Specifically, the test that we are developing will measure the presence of T cells in the immune system, which identify the disease early on and multiply to combat the infection. By creating a diagnostic that looks at the T cells, we hope to be able to:
- Detect the virus in patients that have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic
- Determine who may have more severe symptoms and require hospitalization vs. being able to recover at home
- Determine if people have or have had the disease, even if antibodies are not present
We are hopeful that this data will be used to help contain the spread of COVID-19, ensure the care matches people’s needs, and ultimately help to reopen society.
Fortunately, the approach we are taking is not new to Adaptive or Microsoft. We partnered more than two years ago to map the immune response of T cells to many diseases, including infectious diseases like Lyme disease, autoimmune diseases and cancers. This effort is an extension of that existing partnership where we are now applying our combined expertise to address COVID-19 and fulfill the need for more reliable testing.
While many people are feeling powerless during this uncertain time, those who have been affected by COVID-19 have an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of others. If you have or had COVID-19, your immune system has a critical story to tell us about how to beat the virus. We want to learn from you, so together, we can overcome this pandemic.
COVID-19 will likely become part of our lives for the foreseeable future. For that reason, we need many different solutions – preventative, diagnostic and therapeutic – to contain and manage this disease at a global scale for years to come. That’s why we are also making data from ImmuneRACE freely available to public health officials, academia, and the biopharma industry to help accelerate other solutions.
We’re looking forward to seeing and applying the results of our ImmuneRACE Study to inform faster vaccine development, better therapeutic development and more reliable testing. Thank you to everyone who has joined and will join our race and others. It’s going to be the collective efforts of all of us that will lead us toward the finish line.