immunoSEQ Blog

Researcher Spotlight: Megan Estorninho

Megan Estorninho, PhD

Position:
Research Associate,
King’s College London

Home:
London, UK

Outside the lab:
I love running and playing football for my South London Women’s Football Club. I also enjoy cooking at home and finding great new restaurants and cafes.

Last good movie you’ve seen:
I’m a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock and have recently enjoyed a spell of Hitchcock films played on the big screen at the British Film Institute where they staged a retrospective of his work.

What’s your focus?

We have been developing an approach for TCR clonotyping to understand better the role of autoreactive CD4 T-cells involved in type 1 diabetes aetiology. Our aims are to investigate the distribution and frequency of autoreactive CD4 T-cells within distinct functional T-cell compartments and also to try and establish whether the disease is driven by public or private clonotypes in a mono-, oligo- or polyclonal nature. Our work has been funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is part of an initiative of their Autoimmunity Centres Consortium.

How has immunoSEQ helped in your research?

We are using the immunoSEQ technology to deep sequence the T-cell receptor repertoires of distinct functional CD4 T-cell compartments to a depth that enables identification and tracking of rare autoreactive T-cells. We would not be able to identify these low frequency beta-cell antigen-specific T cells without the depth of coverage enabled by the immunoSEQ technology.

So what did you think?

Using immunoSEQ we have been able to search millions of sequences and compare datasets between patients easily. It has enabled us to look at the data in different ways from gene usage across the hypervariable CDR3 region to size distribution of this region and clonotype diversity within a repertoire. And importantly, it has enabled us to search for rare autoreactive clonotypes and measure their frequency within a population.

Biggest surprise?

We underestimated the shear amount of data we would gain using this technology. ImmunoSEQ have been helpful in working with us to understand our bioinformatic needs and consider these in moving forward with the development of their bioinformatic tools.

When do you anticipate submitting your findings?

We are close to having our findings published as we are currently writing a manuscript in collaboration with the JDRF Autoimmunity Centres Consortium and Adaptive Biotechnologies.

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