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Research tool builds neighborhoods of data

Memphis, Tennessee, August 23, 2021

Two researcher wearing masks walk down a hallway while talking to each other.

Paul Thomas, PhD, and Stefan Schattgen, PhD, both of St. Jude Immunology, developed a tool to compare T-cell receptor sequence and gene-expression data. 

How do you compare two different types of data? St. Jude scientists needed to compare T-cell receptor sequence and gene-expression data. But a tool to do so didn’t exist. So, they made one.

They created an algorithm called clonotype neighbor graph analysis (CoNGA). Researchers can use this tool to group cells based on their T-cell receptor sequences and gene expression. Cells that are similar are clustered together into a neighborhood.

Scientists can draw conclusions about cells based on their neighborhood.

“Using CoNGA we can compare the T-cell receptor and gene-expression neighborhoods,” said Paul Thomas, PhD, of St. Jude Immunology. “If there are cells in the neighborhood that share gene-expression profiles but have T-cell receptors whose function we don't know, we can infer that they probably share a similar function.”

Nature Biotechnology published a report on this work.

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