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Adaptive Biotechnologies Expands to Focus on Covid-19

Harlan and Chad Robins founded Adaptive Biotechnologies in Seattle 12 years ago to find a cancer cure. They’ve now expanded their mission to include COVID-19. Adaptive provides a blood test that assesses immune responses to various diseases in great detail. According to the company, the technology can help with cancer research, diagnosis, and therapy, as well as autoimmune illnesses and infectious diseases.

The company now believes that its technology can aid government agencies in making better COVID-19 judgments. Adaptive developed a customized test to learn more about how immune cells react to the coronavirus. Harlan Robins, chief scientific officer at Adaptive Biotechnologies, said, “Your immune system knows about every disease you have. If we could just ask the immune system what it knows, we would be able to diagnose every disease.”

If successful, it would be yet another significant contribution to the fight against COVID-19 by Seattle-area researchers with origins at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Earlier in the pandemic, the Seattle Virus Study, a collaboration between UW Medicine, Fred Hutch, and Seattle Children’s Hospital, added COVID-19 surveillance to its work tracking the flu. In addition, Dr. Anthony Fauci has selected Dr. Larry Corey of the cancer center to handle government-sponsored clinical studies for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at Fred Hutch, has long been at the forefront of mapping disease mutations and variations. Another successful new firm to emerge from the cancer research center would be Adaptive. The two brothers started the company in 2009 when Harlan and his colleagues at the center made a breakthrough. Adaptive Biotechnologies is the most active firm spun out of the cancer center, with a market valuation of around $5.5 billion and 800 people.

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