Using genomics technology to understand the human immune system and related diseases (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis, psoriasis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) is a burgeoning field called immunogenomics. It brings together experts in genomics and genetics, immunology, computational biology, and clinical research in a search for biomarkers to guide diagnosis and treatment. At HudsonAlpha, these research efforts — led by faculty investigators Jian Han, M.D., Ph.D.,Richard Myers, Ph.D., Devin Absher, Ph.D. and Shawn Levy, Ph.D. — are exploring how the immune system drives disease and how genomics might predict which patients should benefit most from new classes of drugs.
One project underway at HudsonAlpha is using high-throughput sequencing of T-cell receptor genes in the immune repertoire to create a “snapshot” of the functional status of the immune system. Known as “R10K,” these snapshots are being compiled into a repertoire of 10,000 individuals, representing 100 important diseases. Because the immune system is directly involved with many diseases, a personalized immune repertoire can identify diseases that specify repertoire changes, evaluate safety and efficacy of new vaccines, identify new treatment targets, and develop new therapeutics.