Microsoft teams up with Adaptive Biotechnologies to map and decode immune system using AI

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Microsoft has teamed with Seattle-based biotech firm Adaptive Biotechnologies in a bid to map and decode the human immune system using artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The aim of the partnership is that by coupling Adaptive's innovative sequencing technology and Microsoft's large-scale machine learning and cloud computing capabilities, the two firms can make deep reading of the immune system a reality.

"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," Microsoft explained in a blog post.

Adaptive CEO and co-founder Chad Robins added that the potential to help clinicians and researchers connect the dots and understand the relationship between disease states could eventually lead to a better understanding of overall human health.

He described the potential as an "X-ray of the immune system", which would open new doors to predictive medicine because a person's immunological history is believed to shape their response to new pathogens and treatments in ways that are currently impossible to explore.

"The impact on human health of such a universal blood test that reads a person's exposure and response to disease would be, in a word, transformational," he concluded.

Both Microsoft and Adaptive admitted the work related to this partnership "represent a big challenge", but believe that the impact the technology could have on healthcare would be tremendous.

This project is part of Microsoft's Healthcare NExT initiative, which was launched last year to maximise the ability of artificial intelligence and cloud computing to accelerate innovation in the healthcare industry.

Redmond will be sharing more details on the outcome of the partnership at the upcoming JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, later this month.