Microsoft has announced a partnership with biotech company, Adaptive Biotechnologies, which aims to map the human immune system in order to detect cancers and other diseases in their earliest stage.

The collaboration will combine Adaptive’s immune sequencing technologies with Microsoft’s machine learning and cloud computing capabilities, to create individual disease diagnostics and ultimately a universal diagnostic – all from a simple blood test.

Microsoft is also investing an undisclosed sum in Adaptive.

Together, the companies are working to “decode the human immune system” and develop ways to diagnose specific diseases with a simple blood test. Eventually, they hope to develop a universal diagnostic that can detect a wide range of illnesses.

“This announcement comes at a time of inflection in healthcare and biotechnology. We now have the technology to be able to do what we’ve been talking about for the past decade – develop a universal TCR antigen map that presents an opportunity to help patients at an unprecedented scale,” said President, CEO and Co-Founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies, Chad Robins.

“Some conditions like cancer or autoimmune disorders can be difficult to diagnose, but this 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,” continued Robins.

If successful, the companies may achieve a “true breakthrough,” providing the medical community with deeper insights into how a patient’s immune system functions and the diseases it is currently fighting or has battled in the past.

The project is part of Microsoft’s Healthcare NExT initiative, which aims to maximise the ability of AI and cloud computing to accelerate innovation in the healthcare industry, advance science through technology, and turn the lifesaving potential of next discoveries into reality.

“We are very excited and inspired by our collaboration with Adaptive Biotechnologies, as it clearly advances our mission to use cloud and AI technologies to transform healthcare and improve the lives of people around the world,” said  Corporate Vice President, AI and Research at Microsoft, Peter Lee.

“This collaboration combines powerful sequencing and AI technologies into a revolutionary new capability, and represents the kind of deep collaborative partnership that we live for. We are incredibly proud to bring our best people and AI capabilities together with Adaptive in this joint quest,” concluded Lee.

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