Adaptive Biotechnologies wins NIH backing for immune system Dx test

Adaptive Biotechnologies is plowing ahead with plans to test a diagnostic that would screen for cancer patients at risk of dying from infection after cord blood transplants. And $2.53 million in funding from an NIH agency grant will help propel the effort forward.

The Seattle, WA, company is getting the cash infusion through a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from the NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The funding will help support a Phase II study involving 400 cord-blood transplant recipients over three years, the company said, using Adaptive's next-generation sequencing platform, immunoSEQ. Scientists at Adaptive and colleagues in other institutions will look at whether the test can accurately measure how well a cancer patient's adaptive immune system can fight infection after a cord blood transplant.

Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that clinicians believe can help boost the immune system while a patient combats cancer and other diseases. Existing tests measure absolute T-cell count but not much else. Adaptive reported its diagnostic draws a statistical link between a low diversity of infection-fighting T cells and a high risk of death during the patient's first 12 months after a transplant. Quicker spotting of patients at high risk for infection or other complications after a cord blood transplant will ultimately help speed up medical intervention and boost survival rates, the company believes.

Chad Robins, CEO and founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies, said in a statement that the company and its researchers are "delighted to be recipients of this important grant which aims to provide clinicians with a test to reliably identify patients who are not reconstituting a healthy, diverse immune system after transplant."

Adaptive Biotechnologies plans to dive into the study with a number of partners, including the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Duke University, the University of Colorado and City of Hope.

The company as of July was also seeking as much as $20 million in additional funding, according to reports.

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