Finding a 'needle' in a 'haystack' just got easier

Memphis, Tennessee, March 13, 2019

Corresponding author Xiaotu Ma, Ph.D., (left) with corresponding Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., illustrates the significantly decreased error rate using CleanDeepSeq.

Corresponding author Xiaotu Ma, Ph.D., (left) with corresponding Jinghui Zhang, Ph.D., illustrates the significantly decreased error rate using CleanDeepSeq.

Everyone knows that removing hay makes it easier to spot the needle. Now St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have created a tool to locate the mutations that signal cancer’s return. The finding may give cancer patients head starts on cures.

The new software greatly reduced error rates in next-generation sequencing data. Fewer errors make it easier to separate true mutations from sequencing mistakes.

“Early detection of cancer or cancer relapse is like finding a need in a haystack,” said Xiaotu Ma, PhD, of Computational Biology. “Early on, the number of cancer cells is overwhelmed by the number of normal cells.

“This method helps eliminate the hay and makes it easier to find the needle, or in this case the cancer.”

Soon doctors will be able to use the software to quickly diagnose relapse and other problems.

A report on this work appeared in Genome Biology.

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