What Could You Do With 10,000 Immunomes?
A database of normal human immunity has been created by scientists at UC San Francisco, creating an instant comparison group to let researchers use in studies of the immune system and immune dysfunction. The 10,000 Immunomes Project contains the data of 83 studies on healthy people from across the age and background spectrum, funded by the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The data provided is entirely free, and comes with a visualisation tool to aid in interpretation.
The research participants were all part of control groups for studies into organ transplantation, autoimmune disease trials and vaccines, among other areas.
To complete the project, 242 studies uploaded to a pre-existing data portal, ImmPort, were analysed to find measurements on healthy individuals, with 83 relevant studies then “harmonised” to overcome differences stemming from measurements taken at different times and places, or from using different procedures.
The data was so rich that the scientists were able to create a custom control group of women between 18 and 40 years old, to compare against 56 pregnant participants of a study into immune changes occurring during pregnancy. Through this the researchers were able to identify how various immune cells and proteins changed over the course of a pregnancy.
The data has now been used to compare immunity in men and women throughout their lives, taking race and ethnic diversity into account. Some of the findings, including those around immunology between races, was new and achievable only by combining data from a number of separate studies.
Senior author working on the project, Mark Zuckerberg distinguished professor and director of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute at UCSF Atul Butte, MD, PhD, said that his lab had been working for years to disseminate such immunology data through ImmPort: “We realized we had so much data, and especially we had so many control group individuals—healthy folks with no disease, who were treated with placebo or no drug at all—that we could now get a broad survey of what a normal healthy immune system looks like from all these individuals.”
“The ideal is still to recruit and collect measurements on immunity from large cohorts of people, such as what is proposed in the new UCSF Bakar ImmunoX project, but that will still take a lot of time and resources to complete. Since this data is already available, we want people to make use of it and help their science today. We expect that, as more scientists upload their data to NIAID’s ImmPort database, the power of 10KIP will only grow in value, richness and scale.”