EU and Canada

EU and Canada Award €8.4 Million to iReceptor Plus Project to Facilitate Sharing of Genomic and Health Data

The new collaborative international project, headed by Bar-Ilan University, aims to promote human immunological data storage, integration and controlled sharing to enable personalized medicine.

RAMAT GAN, Israel, January 15, 2019 – The European Union (EU) and the Canadian government have awarded €8.4 million to the international iReceptor Plus Consortium, which is composed of more than 20 partners from 9 countries to promote human immunological data storage, integration and controlled sharing for a wide range of clinical and scientific purposes.

The four-year project will expand iReceptor, an innovative platform developed with over €1.7 million in funding from the Canadian government that integrates distributed repositories of Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire sequence (AIRR-seq) data characterizing the antibodies and T-cell receptors from massive numbers of immune cells. New funding for the iReceptor Plus project includes €7.85 million from the EU through the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, and an additional C$800,000 from the Canadian government.

iReceptor Plus will enhance data security, add analysis tools, and integrate AIRR-seq data with other types of clinical and “omics” data, offering an advanced and collaborative immune-profiling hub. This will greatly facilitate the analysis and international sharing of these data across labs, diseases and institutions. Felix Breden, lead scientist for iReceptor’s initial development, and Scientific Manager of the iReceptor Plus project, is delighted with this new international project, saying, “iReceptor Plus will improve our ability to share and compare AIRR-seq data and will also promote the discovery of biomedical interventions that manipulate the adaptive immune system, such as vaccines and other immunotherapies.”

The expanded iReceptor Plus infrastructure will lead the way in implementing researchers’ vision of sharing and analyzing immense immune-sequence datasets from healthy individuals and patients, which have been stored in databanks at multiple sites in multiple countries. For example, one of the major repositories in iReceptor Plus will be established for the Transimmunom LabEx project at Sorbonne University, funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR), in which over 1000 patients diagnosed with one of 19 different autoimmune diseases will have their AIRR-seq data collected along with clinical and other “omics” data.

Associate Professor, Encarnita Mariotti-Ferrandiz, a collaborator on the Transimmunom project, enthused that “the systems immunology approach that iReceptor Plus will promote at all levels of the project will open new avenues for massive data sharing and mining, resulting in biomarker discovery and therapeutic development.”

Gur Yaari, Associate Professor at the Alexander Kofkin Faculty of Engineering of Bar-Ilan University, is Coordinator of the iReceptor Plus project. He summarized the current limitations to sharing this type of sequence data, and the promise of the iReceptor Plus project. “Most AIRR-seq data are currently stored and curated by individual labs, using a variety of tools and technologies. The iReceptor Plus project will lower the barriers to access and analysis of large AIRR-seq datasets. This will facilitate the availability of these important data to academia, industry and clinical partners.”

Yaari added, “iReceptor Plus will advance the understanding of immune responses, and thus provide new targets for therapies and new methods for monitoring therapeutic efficacy.”

The project will support the sharing of public AIRR-seq data from the most innovative technologies, including single-cell data, and clinical and immunoprofiling data, while also providing a mechanism for users to protect private data when such protection is necessary. The platform’s software will be free through open-source licensing, making it possible for the research community to extend and adapt the tools and technologies used in the project.

Through its academic, clinical, and industrial partners, database nodes of the iReceptor Plus network will be established at several international sites to demonstrate its effectiveness in the context of both clinical and biopharma use-cases.

The iReceptor Plus project will hold its opening conference in Eilat, Israel, on January 14–16, 2019.