Scientists from the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre (AMC) have developed an interactive web-based atlas of the human immunome, or genes and proteins that make up the immune system.

Known as EPIC (Extended Polydimensional Immunome Characterisation), the atlas hosts a comprehensive, expanding immune cell database ranging from cord blood to adult stages, and can be used by the scientific community worldwide to study the mechanisms of immunity.

The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins and it protects the body against infection and disease. There has always been great interest in the study of the human immunome and how it works, as it holds the key to understanding why individuals respond differently to viruses, therapies and vaccines. Insights into the human immunome enable the development of more effective treatment or new vaccines and therapies.

EPIC will play a role in augmenting or deepening these studies by providing a construct of the immune map and using artificial intelligence (AI) to stratify and analyze data sets, which scientists can access freely. For example, they can use EPIC to explore the whole architecture of the human immunome for different age groups, or analyze specific cell types particular to their specialty or research. EPIC can be used across the basic, translational and clinical research continuums.

“The study of the human immunome is akin to taking an MRI of the human body at the cellular level, enabling us to pinpoint what is right or wrong and what we can do to tackle disease,” said Professor Salvatore Albani, director of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Translational Immunology Institute and principal investigator of the study.