Adaptive TCR, a Fred Hutch Spinoff, Snags $5.8M to Take Immune System Profiling Up a Notch

6/6/11Follow @xconomy

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DNA gets flipped around in a wild array of combinations, allowing T cells to recognize specific invaders, such as flu viruses, and bacteria, and allowing B cells to generate antibodies against them.

Scientists have traditionally looked to assess immune responses by looking at generalized markers of inflammation like C-reactive protein, or through gathering blood samples and counting certain immune cells like those with CD4 receptors. But until recently, they could never really look at the vast diversity of an individual’s immune system in a specific way that could say how the immune system as a whole reacted to infection with a specific bug, or adapted in response to a certain vaccine or therapy. There was no real way to quantify how strong or weak an individual’s immune repertoire is.

The technology has its roots in work done by Harlan Robins (Chad’s brother), and Chris Carlson—a pair of young faculty members at the Hutch. The initial enthusiasm among their scientific peers has started to spill over to clinical researchers, like those who treat patients, which is why Chad Robins traveled this past weekend to Chicago to meet with doctors at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting. Further behind in the adoption curve, he says, are biotech and pharma companies that are looking for ways to predict which patients will or won’t respond to new drugs in clinical trials—as a way to save time, money, and reduce the risk of failure in clinical trials.

More news will be coming soon, Robins says, as he hopes to add a couple of important new members to the board. For now, the public record shows Adaptive TCR has just three board members—Chad Robins, Andy Zoltners, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and Craig Weissman, the chief technology officer of Salesforce.com. Robins isn’t quite ready to say who else will be joining the board, but he said H. Stewart Parker, the well-known CEO of the Seattle-based Infectious Disease Research Institute, has been advising the company.

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