The European Union (EU) and the Canadian government have awarded the international iReceptor Plus consortium, which is composed of more than 20 partners, €8.65 million to promote human immunological data storage, integration and controlled sharing for a wide range of clinical and scientific purposes.
The four-year project aims to develop an innovative platform to integrate distributed repositories of Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire sequencing (AIRR-seq) data for enabling improved personalized medicine and immunotherapy in cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, allergies and infectious diseases.
iReceptor Plus will enable researchers around the world to share and analyze huge immunological datasets taken from healthy and ill patients that have been sequenced and stored in databanks in multiple countries.
The project has received €7.85 million from the EU through the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme and an additional €800,000 from the Canadian government.
"Most AIRR-seq data is currently stored and curated by individual labs, using a variety of tools and technologies," said Bar-Ilan University Associate Professor Gur Yaari, of the Alexander Kofkin Faculty of Engineering, who is the initiator and coordinator of the iReceptor Plus Project. "The platform will lower the barrier to access and analyze large AIRR-seq datasets and will ease the availability of this important data to academia, industry and clinical partners."
Yaari added that iReceptor Plus will advance the understanding of immune responses, and thus provide new targets for therapies and new methods for monitoring therapeutic efficacy.
"We will offer a totally new class of biomarkers to support novel treatments," Yaari concluded. "The ability to share and compare AIRR-seq data will also promote the discovery of biomedical interventions that manipulate the adaptive immune system such as vaccines and other immunotherapies."
Although data will remain strictly private under the program, the platform's software is free and open source, making it possible for the research community to extend and adapt the tools and technologies used in the project. Database nodes of the iReceptor Plus network will be distributed at several sites to show its effectiveness in the context of both clinical and biopharma use-cases.
The iReceptor Plus project is holding its opening conference this week in Eilat, Israel.