Microsoft, Adaptive partnership bets AI-biotech combo can decode our immune system

By Bernie Monegain
12:32 PM
The aim is to create a universal blood test that detects autoimmune disorders, cancer, diseases and infections, the companies said.
decode human immune system

Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies announced a joint arrangement to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning with biotechnologies to ultimately decode the human immune system.

The deal follows Microsoft and Google each investing in precision medicine startup DNAnexus earlier this week to advance its platform for large genomic and biomedical datasets. 

Much like with DNAnexus, Microsoft did not disclose how much it invested in the project, except to note it “made a substantial financial investment.” 

[Also: Microsoft, Google invest in precision medicine startup DNAnexus]

Microsoft brings research and large-scale machine learning and cloud computing capabilities to table with Adaptive. 

“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,” Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft AI + Research, wrote on the company’s blog.

Adaptive CEO Chad Robins said the deal with Microsoft means his company now has “the technology to be able to do what we’ve been talking about for the past decade.”

“Some conditions like cancer or autoimmune disorders can be difficult to diagnose,” Robins added, “but a universal map of the immune system will enable earlier and more accurate diagnosis of disease, potentially helping physicians to connect the dots to understand the relationship between disease states and eventually lead to a better understanding of overall human health.”

Microsoft also said the endeavor is part of its Healthcare NExT initiative to empower innovators and pair leading capabilities in life and computer sciences to accelerate the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune disorders, cancers and infectious disease.

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