Microsoft has joined forces with Adaptive Biotechnologies, a Seattle-based biotech company, to map the human immune system, according to a Jan. 4 Microsoft blog post by Peter Lee, PhD, the company's corporate vice president of artificial intelligence and research.
Under the partnership, researchers at Microsoft will leverage the company's machine learning and cloud computing capabilities to analyze Adaptive Biotechnologies' high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics data on T-cell and B-cell receptors, which make up the immune system. From there, the companies will develop a "universal T-cell receptor/antigen map" to detect disease.
"Together, we have a goal that is simple to state but also incredibly ambitious: create a universal blood test that reads a person's immune system to detect a wide variety of diseases including infections, cancers and autoimmune disorders in their earliest stage, when they can be most effectively diagnosed and treated," Dr. Lee wrote.
The blood test would not only enable researchers to determine an individual's exposure to a particular disease, but also help personalize treatments based on their immunological history, including what diseases they have overcome in the past. In short, the project aims to "build a practical technology for mapping and decoding the human immune system."
"We know this partnership and the resulting work represent a big challenge," Dr. Lee wrote. "But we believe in the impact technology can have in healthcare, specifically how AI, the cloud and collaboration with our partners can come together and transform what is possible."
As part of the partnership, Microsoft also made a "substantial financial investment" in Adaptive Biotechnologies, according to Dr. Lee. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.