Human Immunome Project unveils plan to map the human immune system

Global research initiative aims to leverage immune monitoring technology and AI to decode the intricacy of the immune system.

In 2003, after 15 years of concerted global research efforts and a cost of around $3 billion, the Human Genome Project produced the first sequence of the human genome. Since then, the field of genomics has been making it possible to predict, diagnose and treat diseases more effectively than ever before.

Today, on World Immunology Day, the global nonprofit scientific initiative Human Immunome Project (HIP) unveiled its scientific plan to map and model the human immune system. The immune system plays a pivotal role in human health, and the decline in its functionality as we age is linked to many age-related and chronic diseases. But, with less than 0.01% of the necessary data available to understand immune function and diversity globally, the complexity of the immune system has posed significant challenges to those seeking to understand it.

The HIP is on a mission to decode the immune system, and claims that recent advancements in immune monitoring and artificial intelligence offer unprecedented opportunities to unravel its intricacies.

“The immune system is the epicenter of human health, and our newly released scientific plan outlines an actionable, global strategy for how we can unlock the secrets of the immune system and harness its power to improve health for all,” said Dr Hans Keirstead, CEO of the Human Immunome Project. 

HIP CEO Hans Keirstead with Board Members Linda Avey, Jane Metcalfe, and Jose-Maria Fernandez.

The HIP’s scientific plan delineates a multifaceted approach, starting with the establishment of a network of global study sites. The sites will capture the diversity of human populations, spanning age, ethnicity, geography, sex and socioeconomic status, to generate comprehensive immunological datasets.

Deploying immune monitoring kits designed to facilitate standardized data collection worldwide, the collaborative effort aims to produce longitudinal datasets, enabling scientists to track developmental and age-dependent changes across diverse populations. The initiative’s initial focus will be on establishing up to 10 pilot sites, strategically located globally, with an emphasis on regions such as the Global South and sub-Saharan Africa. The plan is to expand to more than 100 locations worldwide as the initiative progresses.

As data collection progresses, the HIP will embark on developing AI models, initially predictive and later mechanistic, to deepen understanding of immune responses and health trajectories. It is hoped these models will catalyze advancements in drug development, personalized medicine and global health challenges, including maternal health, aging, cognitive decline and disease evolution.

“The Human Immunome Project is at the cutting-edge of scientific discovery and is uniquely positioned to provide the scientific and medical communities with the knowledge and tools to innovate new diagnostics, drugs, vaccines and immunotherapies that can address disease, elongate healthspans, and enable more personalized and more effective healthcare for all,” added Keirstead, who is also Chairman of Immunis, a US biotech targeting age-related immune decline.

Photographs courtesy of Human Immunome Project