The Human Vaccines Project and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) today announced that they joined forces with Illumina, Inc., to decipher the human immunome, the genetic underpinnings of the immune system. Illumina will provide the genetic sequencing technologies and expertise required to process the massive amounts of data required to decode the human immunome.
The Human Vaccines Project is a public-private partnership of academic research centers, industry, non-profits and government agencies that aims to decode the human immune system to accelerate development of next-generation vaccines and immunotherapies. A core initiative of the Project is the Human Immunome Program, an internationally led effort by VUMC to determine key principles of how the human immune system prevents and controls disease by illuminating the complete set of genes and molecular structures known as the human immunome.
"By decoding the human immune system, we have the potential to uncover novel diagnostic biomarkers for a wide range of diseases," said James Crowe Jr., M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center and lead investigator of the Human Immunome Program. "This will enable the development of highly targeted vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious and non-communicable diseases like AIDS, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and cancer."
Due to its scale and complexity, the human immunome is estimated to be billions of times larger than the human genome. With recent technological advances from biomedical and computational sciences, it is now possible to undertake such a mammoth genetic sequencing and data analysis program.
"We are very pleased to collaborate with the Human Vaccines Project, Vanderbilt and its partners, by bringing Illumina's state of the art genetic sequencing and bioinformatics technologies to help solve this major challenge," said Gary Schroth, Ph.D., distinguished scientist and vice president for product development at Illumina. "Successfully defining the human immunome will provide the foundational knowledge to usher in a new era of vaccine, diagnostic and therapeutic development."
"Illumina's involvement exemplifies the value of public-private partnerships in advancing medical science," said Wayne C. Koff, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project. "Collaboration offers significant opportunity to harness the human immune system and transform our ability to fight disease across the globe."
The launch of the Project's Human Immunome Program was announced in June 2016. The long-term global study, which is coordinated by the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, will genetically sequence the receptors from B and T immune cells from individuals varied by age, gender, genetics, geography and disease states. Results will be shared as an open-sourced database to the global scientific community.
"Sequencing the human immunome is the next frontier of genetic medicine. This important collaboration with The Human Vaccines Project and Illumina marks an exciting step in Vanderbilt's distinguished history and leadership in vaccine research and personalized medicine," said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of VUMC and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "Insights about the genetic underpinnings of the human immune system gained from this study will help guide future generations of biomarker and therapeutic development."
This multi-institutional effort is also supported by the Human Vaccines Project Bioinformatics and Data Management Core, located at the J. Craig Venter Institute and the San Diego Super Computer Center at the University of California, San Diego. The Core will analyze the enormous data sets generated by the effort.
About the Human Vaccines Project
The Human Vaccines Project is a nonprofit public-private partnership with a mission to decode the human immune system to accelerate the development of vaccines and immunotherapies against major infectious diseases and cancers. The Project brings together leading academic research centers, industrial partners, nonprofits and governments to address the primary scientific barriers to developing new vaccines and immunotherapies. Support and funding for the Project includes the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, GSK, MedImmune, Sanofi Pasteur, Crucell/Janssen, Regeneron, Pfizer, Moderna, Boehringer Ingelheim, Aeras, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, UC San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, J. Craig Venter Institute and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. To learn more, visit http://www.humanvaccinesproject.org and follow us on Twitter @HumanVacProject.
Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Our focus on innovation has established us as the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit http://www.illumina.com and follow @illumina.
About Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Managing more than 2 million patient visits each year, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is one of the largest academic medical centers in the Southeast, and is the primary resource for specialty and primary care in hundreds of adult and pediatric specialties for patients throughout Tennessee and the Mid-South. The School of Medicine's biomedical research program is among the nation's top 10 in terms of National Institutes of Health peer review funding, receiving more than $500 million in public and private awards during 2016. The Medical Center is the region's locus of postgraduate medical education, with over 1,000 residents and fellows training in more than 100 specialty areas. Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt are recognized each year by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals rankings as national leaders, with 19 nationally ranked adult and pediatric specialties. Through the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network, VUMC is working with over 60 hospitals and 5,000 clinicians across Tennessee and five neighboring states to share best practices and bring value-driven and cost-effective health care to the Mid-South.