Adaptive is surfing a wave of enthusiasm in disease detection, betting on the immune system

With a valuation over $5B, Adaptive is charging into early disease detection via a platform to compete with Grail and Guardant.

Adaptive’s float to more than $5 billion after its June IPO is largely based on its ambition to compete with the likes of Grail and Guardant in early diagnosis of cancer and other diseases by taking advantage of the immune system’s powers of detection. Getting there will require building a universal map of interactions between TCR sequences and disease-associated antigens, which Adaptive and partner Microsoft Corp. think they can complete in five to ten years.

Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. more than doubled its share price to above $40 within a day of its June 26 debut, and it remains at $47.81 per share after reporting Q2 earnings Monday. The rally is the latest indicator that broad, non-invasive early detection platforms break the mold for how investors value diagnostics.

“The opportunity to create a diagnostic for so many diseases from a single blood test is so transformational, I think a lot of investors got that,” said President Julie Rubinstein. “They saw that as something so different than the traditional paradigm they apply to diagnostics, that we were valued on that opportunity.”

“We have the ability to see that expanded T cell clone when the disease is still teeny tiny.”

Julie Rubinstein, Adaptive

Rather than searching for markers or agents of disease -- such as cancer antigens, circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), autoantibodies or bacteria -- Adaptive is looking for signs the immune response has been engaged. Adaptive claims that following the immune system gives it the opportunity to detect cancer earlier than its competitors, and capture conditions outside of cancer like autoimmunity and infectious disease.

The technology hinges on detection of TCRs, the receptors on T cells that recognize antigens and activate proliferation, cytokine secretion and killing. By measuring

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