What is the iReceptor Plus Project all about?

Every person is unique, with his own combination of genetics, environment and experiences. This distinctive makeup means that some patients respond to a treatment that is ineffective in others.

Therefore, it is natural that personalized medicine – in which treatments are suited to the individual – is today the preferred way of handling disease from cancer, infections and allergies to inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Big data collected from patients around the world are also improving the ability to improve diagnosis and deciding what treatment will be most effective.

Now the European Union (EU) and the Canadian Government have awarded the international iReceptor Plus consortium €8.65 million to promote human data storage, integration and sharing of genomic and health data to sharpen the techniques of personalized medicine

The four-year project aims at developing an innovative platform to integrate distributed repositories of Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire (AIRR-seq) data for enabling improved personalized medicine and immunotherapy for diseases with an immune component.

The project has received €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 is comprised of 20 partner organizations from Canada, the US, France, Israel, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Norway and Belgium. The consortium includes leading research institutes, universities, technology and development centers as well as industrial and clinical companies.

The iReceptor will enable researchers around the world to share and analyze huge datasets taken from healthy and ill patients that have been sequenced and stored in databanks in multiple countries.

“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 Faculty of Engineering who is the  coordinator of the iReceptor Plus Project. The platform will “lower the barrier to access and analyze large AIRR-seq data sets 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 suggest 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.”

The data in the AIRR-seq repositories will be a mix of public and private data, and the platform’s software is free and open software, making it possible for the research community to extend and adapt the tools and technologies used in the project. The iReceptor Plus will be demonstrated at several sites to show its effectiveness in in the context of the both clinical and biopharma use-cases.

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