Attacking autoimmune disease

Adaptive Biotechnologies signs deal with Biogen Idec to characterize immune status of patients with autoimmune disease

Jeffrey Bouley
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SEATTLE—Bringing together their respective autoimmuneexpertise, Adaptive Biotechnologies and Biogen Idec recently signed anagreement for the study of immunological biomarkers in difficult-to-treatautoimmune diseases, under which Adaptive's proprietary immune profiling assay,immunoSEQ, will be used to characterize patient samples with autoimmunedisorders with high unmet medical needs.
The immunoSEQ assay uses high-throughput, next-generationsequencing to characterize the repertoire of T and B cell receptors, which canbe useful to monitor the immune status of patients with autoimmune diseases andto assess the impact of treatments that impact or alter the immune system. 
It is the T cell area, though, in which Adaptive seems to bemore focused, as the company touts that its technology provides researchers"the first in-depth analysis of the T-cell receptor repertoire, a specific andimportant part of the immune system," and allows for the identification of theexact makeup of approximately 10 million to 15 million unique T-cell receptorsin one individual, compared to previous techniques that could catalog onlyabout 30,000.
According to Chad Robins, CEO and founder of AdaptiveBiotechnologies, the company is concentrating its efforts on specific,prevalent autoimmune diseases under the belief that a drug therapy targetingthe specific T-cell receptor combinations associated with autoimmune diseasecould pre-emptively block the relevant T-cell receptors from mistakenly reactingto their own body tissues, thus preventing or ameliorating the disease.
"We are delighted to collaborate with Biogen Idec to helpfurther characterize the immune status of patients with autoimmune diseases whoare often quite heterogeneous and therefore, difficult to treat without a morepersonalized approach," said Robins in the news release about the deal."Partnering with Biogen Idec fits squarely with Adaptive's dual commitment to adeeper understanding of complex diseases as well as to finding better means totreat them."
Fueled by discoveries from immunoSEQ since its launch in2010, Adaptive also is currently developing a pipeline of clinical assays thatare specific to cancer diagnosis and prognosis. All of AdaptiveBiotechnologies' assays, the company notes, are coupled with a cloud-computinginfrastructure that "simplifies the interpretation of massive quantities ofdata in a user-friendly interface."
Although neither company is talking about which autoimmunediseases are of interest in this particular deal, Biogen Idec's pipeline hasseveral investigational therapeutics in the works for autoimmune diseases thatare in Phase I, II or III clinical trials—at least six compounds for lupuserythematosus, lupus nephritis and also multiple sclerosis, which is suspectedby many researchers of having an autoimmune component.
In other recent Adaptive news, the company in May enteredinto a collaboration agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for the discoveryof immunological biomarkers in oncology. Under that collaboration, Adaptivewill use immunoSEQ to identify potential biomarkers that may provide insightinto drug response for various cancers as a possible tool to identify patientpopulations who might be more likely to respond to targeted therapies based ontheir immune status.

Jeffrey Bouley

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