The coronavirus pandemic has thrust testing into the spotlight, highlighted by long lines to get tested across the country.  We know that accurate, sensitive, and timely diagnosis is paramount in fighting and containing this virus. The same can be said for many diseases; having the right test goes beyond COVID-19.

Today, in parallel with our efforts to bring forth a novel T-cell-based test for COVID-19 to market soon, another major focus at Adaptive and for those in the oncology community is the ability to test for “minimal residual disease,” or MRD. MRD refers to the small number of cancer cells that can stay in the body during and after treatment. Often, these cells are present at such low levels that they do not cause any physical signs or symptoms. However, they may be a signal that cancer is returning, and their absence can be a signal that the disease is under control.

As one of the strongest predictors of patient outcomes in blood cancer, it is no surprise that more and more oncology and hematology treatment developers are integrating MRD tests into their clinical trials. In fact, we recently entered into a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to use our clonoSEQ® Assay – the first and only FDA-cleared in vitro diagnostic for MRD monitoring in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma (MM), and B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) – across GSK’s hematology and oncology portfolio. This adds to a number of partnerships already established with AbbVie, Amgen and Genentech which incorporate clonoSEQ into their blood cancer clinical trials.

Not only is the use of MRD testing growing in clinical trials, but it is also becoming more routine in the post-approval patient journey. MRD status can help patients and doctors understand how the body is responding to treatment and make timely course-corrections as needed. Especially today, as novel therapies drive better response, MRD testing is increasingly important to assess the depth and durability of that response, so clinicians are prepared to intervene quickly and patients have the opportunity to make choices and plan.

As MRD testing continues to become more commonplace, we’ve recently launched a study with the primary goal of understanding why and how MRD testing is used in patients with ALL, CLL, MM and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) to identify trends and best practices for the broader oncology community. As part of our new WATCH registry, we will be following patients’ MRD data and treatment changes for up to three years to understand how MRD testing with clonoSEQ is used, what decisions physicians are making based on MRD results, and qualitatively, the correlation between MRD and patient outcomes.

Knowing MRD status – with a test that, given sufficient sample input, can detect one cancer cell among a million cells – gives patients and doctors the confidence and empowerment they need to stay in the driver’s seat of their disease. In the coming weeks, there will be a lot of new data shared about innovation in both testing and treatment at the American Society of Hematology meeting. I look forward to sharing some thoughts around those advances soon.

Testing is a backbone of treatment. As oncology treatments continue to advance and become more personalized, and the options continue to widen, so too should our focus on diagnostics to ensure physicians have the best information to make the best decisions for their patients.

COVID-19 rates are at an all-time high. With no singular containment strategy underway in the U.S., it has become more critical than ever to understand who has previously been infected by the virus, whether or not they displayed symptoms. Traditional serology tests can detect the presence of antibodies in the blood, indicating that the body has responded to an infection in the past, but antibodies appear to wane over time. Moreover, recent studies show that some people never mount a detectable antibody response and are instead able to fight off the infection with other immune cells, T cells, before antibodies even appear. Having different tests to help detect recent or past infection is critical to gaining a more accurate understanding of immunity on a population-wide scale.

As part of our ongoing effort with Microsoft to build the TCR-Antigen Map and develop novel, more accurate diagnostics to diagnose many different diseases, we’ve analyzed over 1,500 SARS-CoV-2 samples to date in the ImmuneCODE study. Our most recent study published on the preprint server medRxiv shows that Adaptive’s T-cell test under development outperformed commercial EUA approved antibody testing as an indicator of past SARS-CoV-2 infection, with 99.8% specificity. These data support the launch of T-Detect™ COVID, which will be available later this fall. The study also found that T-cell response differed and was considerably higher in individuals with greater disease severity, whereas there was no correlation between disease severity and antibody levels in these recovered patients. Taken together, these data add to the growing body of evidence that T cells are critical in understanding our immunity to the novel coronavirus.

Vo’, Italy – One Town’s Mission to Contain the Pandemic

On February 21, 78-year-old Adriano Trevisan was the first person in Italy to die of pneumonia due to COVID-19. He was from a small town in northern Italy called Vo’, a one-hour drive west of Venice. Two days following his death, the entire municipality of Vo’ was placed under a strict lockdown and almost immediately, an aggressive testing campaign was initiated. At the beginning and end of a 14-day lockdown, 2,900 residents – 97% of Vo’s population – were tested using PCR to confirm the presence of the virus. More than 40% of those who tested positive showed no symptoms, and this study was one of the first showing that these asymptomatic cases were key to the undetected spread of the virus. Those who tested positive were either quarantined at home or, in severe cases, hospitalized. All residents were encouraged to limit their movement outside of their homes. By March 23, the spread of the illness had stopped and there were no new infections. These data were published in Nature and were widely cited because they provided real world evidence for how the pandemic could be controlled through proper testing and quarantine of affected individuals.

A Breakthrough in Detecting Past SARS-CoV-2 Infection and a Potential Key to Immunity

Vo’ is one of the only locations in the world where previous SARS-CoV-2 infection status is “known” for an entire population. It is thus ideal for understanding how to measure past infection. Two months after the initial lockdown, Adaptive collaborated with University of Padua and Ospedale San Raffaele in Milan in a follow-up study of 2,290 residents, including 70 people who had tested positive with PCR testing on initial analysis. Study participants underwent antibody testing with a EUA approved commercial test (IgG) and T-cell testing with Adaptive’s T-Detect. T-Detect identified 97% of past infections, while antibody testing identified only 77%. Additionally, the T-cell response was higher in symptomatic versus asymptomatic subjects, demonstrating a relationship between disease severity and the amount of detectable T cells, whereas antibody levels did not correlate with disease severity in this recovery period.

Notably, of the 2,200 people who originally tested negative for the virus using PCR¬, 45 tested positive for virus-specific T cells with T-Detect. About half of them had reported symptoms, either before or after PCR testing, or had household exposure. Therefore, T-Detect may also identify past infections that had been missed by prior PCR testing.

Assessing Protection from Future Infection

As infection rates continue to soar, T-cell testing can help us understand the true prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities as well as the degree to which our population is protected from future infection. At the individual level, the availability of a T-cell based clinical test could be useful for people who suspect they may have had COVID-19, but were either unable to get tested or had a negative PCR test at the time of their illness, and who want to know for sure whether they had the disease.

While there is still much to be learned about immunity to and protection from this virus, emerging data show that antibody protection may be transient, and T cells could be the key to durability of protection. Such insights will be critical as we progress toward lasting solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic, including the race toward a vaccine.

Earlier in my career, in the late 90s and early 2000s, I had the opportunity to work in the “global e-business” groups at two large pharmaceutical companies. At that time, e-business was a new noun – a word widely used across industries but with so many different and emerging meanings. In healthcare, e-business was the start of a new era of data collection and information delivery across the industry.

Nine months ago, my peers and I marveled at how far we’ve come in 20 years with the convergence of biotech and tech, the genomic revolution, the way in which data is helping segment patient populations for more targeted therapies, and the emergence of machine learning to advance research and discovery in healthcare. “E-business” is no longer a noun used anywhere, but it is very much part of everything we do in business and in healthcare.

We are now in the midst of another transformation of the use of big data in healthcare. Collaborative efforts throughout the industry, often propelled by technology like AI, have accelerated our ability to obtain information about the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how people across the globe are responding to it. This is fundamentally altering the way therapeutics and vaccines are researched and developed – in record time – so that patients can get the care they need.

At Adaptive, we are focused on how people across the globe are responding to the virus. By decoding the adaptive immune response at the individual and population level, we aim to make sense of the interaction between the virus and the human body from exposure to infection to recovery. This is a very hard but solvable big data problem if you have the right technology and the right minds behind it.

In 2018, Microsoft and Adaptive forged a partnership to bring together MSFT’s machine learning, AI and cloud computing to our immune medicine platform – accelerating our ability to map the trillions of T-cell receptors to the millions of clinically-relevant disease antigens to which they bind. As my colleague, and partner, Peter Lee at Microsoft, once said, “the adaptive immune system presents an extremely large but beautiful machine learning problem.”

Why? Because our immune cells have evolved to be massively diverse and dynamic to protect us from millions of different signals of disease that our bodies encounter every day. And each person’s immune system is different, which is why people are reacting so differently to this novel coronavirus. Every single person presents the virus a little bit differently to their own immune system, and we have evolved this way as humans to ensure that no virus or germ can completely eradicate the human race.

Since the immune system sees SARS-CoV-2 just like it would any other virus, we were able to quickly mobilize our platform to map the T cell response across thousands of people from around the world. All of the T cell response data that we’ve collected so far is being made freely available to the scientific and public health communities to help accelerate solutions.

At the same time that we have been generating and releasing this T cell mapping data, researchers around the world have been publishing studies showing that antibodies don’t tell the whole story about the immune response to the virus. We now have the ability to broaden the definition of immune response to include the T cell response at scale to inform more accurate and effective diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

The pandemic has spurred many novel partnerships and innovations to expedite and make drug discovery more efficient, breaking down barriers as we band together as an industry to advance solutions as fast as technology can glean new data. Take for instance, the global COVID R&D Alliance that is bringing together 20 of the most experienced life science and drug development companies – like Schrödinger, Amgen, Pfizer and others – to identify, study, and accelerate promising treatments for COVID-19. Recently, Google Cloud joined this alliance, donating over 16 million hours of high-computing technology to advance solutions.

Thanks to AI and other novel technologies, today we can harness data to crack the code of disease and the immune response to disease in ways unimaginable, until now. As data continues to emerge at an unprecedented rate about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the immune response, it’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Only by blending the best minds with the best of science and tech can we continue to make a true difference in how this and future pandemics are defeated.

As the U.S. continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we in the medical community must also keep our eye on progressing research and solutions in other disease areas with high unmet need. One of these is Lyme disease, which has similarities in symptoms with COVID-19, causing even more confusion in an already hard to diagnose – and often misdiagnosed – condition.

The onset of Lyme disease, which impacts an estimated 427,000 people each year, oftentimes signals the start of a long, frustrating and painful journey.  Lyme disease is frequently missed or misdiagnosed due to a combination of vague symptoms – fever, fatigue, muscle and joint aches – and unreliable testing at the beginning of infection.  In fact, only 30% of people acutely infected with Lyme disease test positive in the early stage when it is the optimal time to treat.

Since antibodies to an infection can take several weeks to develop, standard blood-based antibody tests fail to diagnose up to 60-70% of patients in the acute Lyme setting. These tests also cannot tell the difference between active and old infections, so many people will continue to test positive for the disease even after they have been successfully treated with antibiotics.  But the most unfortunate aspect of this paradigm is that if left untreated, Lyme disease can become a debilitating, chronic illness, leaving over 40 percent of sufferers unemployed and 27 percent on disability.

This complex, lengthy and costly journey of misdiagnosis or delay in treatment, or “diagnostic odyssey,” costs our healthcare system up to a billion dollars each year and may cause potentially life-altering and long-term complications for patients such as chronic pain and fatigue, memory issues and nerve paralysis. Along the way, patients are frequently misdiagnosed and treated for conditions such as multiple sclerosis and depression.

At Adaptive Biotechnologies, we believe that measuring the T-cell based response to Lyme disease can improve diagnosis, therefore enabling the right intervention and improving outcomes. Our immune medicine platform brings together science and technology such as AI and machine learning helping us to see how our bodies naturally detect and respond to many diseases, including Lyme disease. Similar to how we’ve responded to the call and need for better diagnostics to test for COVID-19 with our partner Microsoft, our goal is to develop a T-cell based diagnostic test for Lyme disease that is more sensitive in the earliest stages of disease – so patients can benefit from more accurate diagnosis and treatment when it is most effective.

An important priority at Adaptive is the launch of the ImmuneSense Lyme clinical validation study. Preliminary data on our immunoSEQ Dx Lyme Assay test shows the test could be significantly more sensitive than standard serology testing in the early stage of disease. In this new study, we hope to confirm these findings and have the opportunity to bring forth a new diagnostic for this serious and often overlooked condition. It’s time to improve the diagnostic odyssey for those impacted by Lyme disease, and we hope to help bring about this change.

I’ve known far too many people who have received a cancer diagnosis, navigated the initial shock, and bravely taken on all of the ‘stuff’ that comes with it – finding the right clinician, deciding on a treatment plan, and readjusting their life to the unknown.

What if my treatment stops working? What happens if my cancer returns? How long will I stay in remission?

Treatment for blood cancers has evolved rapidly, and the measure of minimal residual disease, or MRD, is becoming an increasingly important measure of the presence of cancer throughout the treatment journey. And now, patients living with the most common type of leukemia – chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL – have a new way to get answers to those common questions that often keep them and their loved ones awake at night.

Today, Adaptive received FDA clearance for the clonoSEQ® Assay to assess MRD in CLL, expanding the existing label to a third indication – and providing an important advancement for this community. It is the first and only FDA-cleared in vitro diagnostic for MRD monitoring in CLL, with the ability to measure 1 cancer cell among 1,000,000 healthy cells. This next-generation sequencing assay identifies the genetic sequence for each patient’s unique T or B cell cancer, and then counts the number of these cancer cells when needed, during and after treatment.

This clearance comes at a pivotal time. As newer CLL therapies drive deeper response, MRD testing is increasingly important to assess depth and durability of response.
The FDA’s decision was based on samples and outcomes data from two clinical trials which demonstrated:

• CLL patients with undetectable MRD (U-MRD) as measured by clonoSEQ had significantly reduced risk of disease progression compared to patients who did not reach U-MRD status. Patients with U-MRD (MRD < 10-5) by clonoSEQ had a nearly 7-fold decreased risk of disease progression, compared to MRD-positive patients (MRD ≥ 10-5).2
• clonoSEQ MRD results were significantly predictive of progression-free survival (PFS) in both blood and bone marrow samples, regardless of the threshold at which MRD was assessed.2

The CLL treatment landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade, with many new therapies available and a host of promising treatments on the horizon. Patients are living longer because of these advancements and as a result, clinicians need new ways to more accurately assess efficacy earlier in the patient’s treatment journey, either on approved therapies or in clinical trials for new drugs in development.

While clonoSEQ has been used for quite some time from a patient’s bone marrow in multiple myeloma and B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, today’s additional indication in blood as well as bone marrow for CLL patients provides that patient population options for assessing MRD. Blood-based testing, available for the first time as an FDA-cleared use of clonoSEQ, provides patients and healthcare providers with a more convenient and less intrusive option to detect and monitor disease. This is especially advantageous during the time of COVID-19; as we all know too well, cancer doesn’t stop for anything, even a pandemic.

We believe that the value of knowing your clonoSEQ MRD status can be valuable to any patient with these types of blood cancers. To ensure patients have access to testing, Medicare coverage for clonoSEQ was expanded to include testing for patients with CLL in addition to patients with myeloma and ALL. The Medicare CLL coverage policy closely aligns with CLL clinical practice guidelines and supports testing in both blood and bone marrow at time points throughout a patient’s treatment.

There is no easy way to get through a cancer diagnosis and journey. But the ability to know how many cancer cells remain during and following treatment can bring peace-of-mind during a very stressful experience. We are humbled to play a small role in helping to improve patient care in this meaningful way.

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.

 

 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact us all personally and professionally, the amount of scientific brainpower that is being dedicated to solving this crisis has been unprecedented. Over the last several weeks, researchers and companies around the world have been racing to develop a variety of potential solutions, from existing therapeutics to new diagnostics and treatments.

At Adaptive, we recently announced an expanded partnership with Amgen to develop a potential antibody therapy to prevent or treat COVID-19. I’m here to answer some frequently asked questions about the work we’re doing together to address this pandemic.

What are Adaptive and Amgen doing to fight COVID-19?
Through this partnership, we are identifying certain antibodies, called neutralizing antibodies, from the blood of patients who are actively fighting or have recently recovered from COVID-19 and then using those to develop a therapeutic. We are analyzing the immune response to COVID-19 from the blood of some recovered patients to find the best antibodies that could neutralize the virus.

Once we have found the best antibody candidates using our high-throughput screening platform, Amgen will then select, develop and manufacture the strongest antibodies into a therapeutic. If successful, the therapeutic would be used for treating patients fighting the disease, as well as preventing infection in those with heightened exposure, such as healthcare workers.

What is the rationale behind antibody therapy?
We have seen some early successes transfusing convalescent plasma from people who have recovered from the virus to treat those who are fighting severe cases of the disease. However, it isn’t a scalable or sustainable solution to the worldwide problem.

Building on the philosophy behind this approach, we want to leverage what worked in the immune response from survivors and infuse the best of those antibodies into people currently fighting the virus. Adaptive’s technology enables us to find the right antibodies and Amgen’s technology enables a scalable solution – the best of both worlds.

What are neutralizing antibodies, and why are you focused on those vs. other types of antibodies?
Neutralizing antibodies are a special set of antibodies that happen to interfere with the biological function of an invading virus. What makes these antibodies particularly special, and why just one or a few of these antibodies could be packaged into a treatment, is their ability to fight the virus all on their own.

How is Adaptive and Amgen’s approach different from others working on antibody therapies?
While others are working on an antibody solution, there are two distinguishing features about our platform which makes the combined Adaptive/Amgen approach unique.

First, our platform lets the immune system reveal the best antibodies against the virus without restricting our search to a pre-identified target. In contrast, some groups are using biological insights about this virus combined with comparative genomics of related viruses to select targets such as an epitope on the spike protein. This is an excellent hypothesis and lets you reduce your search space massively and move fast and we hope it will work in many patients.

Second, we have the scale and speed to assess a much broader pool of possible antibodies against a wider range of targets. Our platform allows us to look at the full sequence of all of the activated antibodies in patients currently fighting the virus. We then funnel them down through a series of techniques to find those that neutralize most efficaciously. I’ll give you a basketball analogy, since we’re all yearning for some sports: We’re scouting for the “Michael Jordan” of antibodies. With Adaptive’s platform, we can scout more candidates than any other team, at one time, to find the “MVP” of antibodies to neutralize this virus. FYI, I grew up in Chicago. This may also dictate whether we develop a single antibody therapy or a cocktail of antibodies, and when along the treatment continuum neutralizing antibodies specific to COVID-19 might matter most.

Why are you confident this approach will work?
Most RNA viruses, such as influenza and Ebola, mutate quickly. For this reason, single antibody therapies have only had mild success, as you are effectively trying to hit a moving target. However, SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus that mutates more slowly than other RNA viruses. While it does mutate and there is expected to be an increasing number of strains, they are more genetically related to each other. This relative stability lends itself well to a neutralizing antibody therapy, since the virus will be largely the same in most people, and therefore able to be treated with a single antibody therapy.

How do neutralizing antibodies fit with other solutions being developed for COVID-19?
Based on everything we know about this coronavirus, we expect that it will, at some point, transition from being pandemic to endemic. This means there would be an ongoing need for a therapeutic over potentially many years, and most certainly for the foreseeable future.
Ideally, a global vaccine and other effective treatments, including more reliable testing options, will be available in the near future.

In reality, it may take a while to get a vaccine that works broadly and can be administered across the whole world. Even after a vaccine is found, we can expect periodic outbreaks that further the need for therapies as part of the long-term solution paradigm for this virus. In addition, we know that it’s unlikely one treatment solution will work for everyone, especially as we learn more about who is at higher risk for having a harder recovery.

How does this partnership differ with what Adaptive is doing with Microsoft?
Adaptive is harnessing its immune medicine platform to pursue two separate but synergistic applications to combat COVID-19. Using the same immune medicine platform that we are working with to deliver antibody candidates to Amgen, we are also working with Microsoft to decode the T cell response to COVID-19.

What gives you hope?
At Adaptive, we have long believed the immune system holds the key to diagnosing and treating almost all diseases. It’s really encouraging to see so much research and focus in this moment on the immune response to COVID-19.

Additionally, I have never seen more companies set aside their “bottom line” to collectively solve a global crisis. We are incredibly proud and inspired to be in the fight with all those who have committed their brainpower, expertise and resources to defeating COVID-19. It’s not a matter of who gets there first, just that we – all of us – bring the world much-needed solutions for this pandemic and future threats.

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,
Chad

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,
Chad

At Adaptive Biotechnologies, we are focused on decoding how the body’s immune system works to inform the development of clinical products to detect and treat disease. Two years ago, we partnered with Microsoft and have been leveraging our immune medicine platform along with their hyperscale machine learning capabilities to map population-wide adaptive immune responses to enable the earlier and accurate detection of many diseases through the identification of disease-specific immune response signatures.

Enter coronavirus.

Leveraging what we know about the immune system, we are privileged to announce today that we are extending our partnership with Microsoft and with the support of other industry leaders, we are now poised to decode the immune response to COVID-19. To accelerate the development of improved detection methods and vaccine discovery, we will make this data freely available to any researcher, public health official, or organization around the world via an open data access portal.

Right now, the vast majority of current R&D efforts are focused on the RNA of the virus itself. We’re attacking this from a different angle. There is critical information held within the genetics of a patient’s immune response to the virus and the disease patterns we can infer from studying the immune response at the population level. Immune response data may help to solve two of the key challenges we are facing in the current diagnostic paradigm: detection of the virus in infected people who are not showing symptoms and improved triaging of newly diagnosed patients. Finding the relevant immune response signature may also advance solutions to treat and prevent the disease.

A pivotal part of this effort will be our own research study to collect de-identified blood samples from individuals diagnosed with or recovered from COVID-19. Industry partners are pitching in with critical services including LabCorp, Illumina, and Providence. Immune cell receptors from these blood samples will be sequenced and mapped to SARS-CoV-2 specific antigens that have been confirmed by our immune medicine platform to induce an immune response. The antigens and mapped immune receptor data will be uploaded to the open data access portal. The accuracy of the immune response signature will be continuously improved and updated online in real time as more blood samples are received and sequenced.

We anticipate that COVID-19 will, like the flu, become part of our lives going forward. Continually generating and providing these data will help advance solutions to diagnose, treat, and prevent the disease in the future.

We invite more collaborators to join us. Other institutions or collaborators interested in contributing blood samples can direct inquiries to COVID19ImmuneResponse@adaptivebiotech.com. Please pass this information along.

As this pandemic sweeps across our communities around the world, it has been inspiring to see how the healthcare, biotechnology and technology communities, among others, have banded together to expedite potential solutions to all aspects of the current situation. In the same way, it has been amazing to see this effort come together in a short period of time – within our team at Adaptive and across our partners’ organizations, people have mobilized and are collaborating in a way that I have never seen before. I have never been prouder to be a part of an industry and a community that can truly make a difference.

We are facing a pandemic that will only be solved with a global effort that includes our best and brightest thinkers, our boldest scientists and researchers, and our biggest humanitarians.

We look forward to collaborating and sharing data with all of you.

Stay safe.
Chad

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