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  1. Abstract Due to commonalities in pathophysiology, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) represents a uniquely accessible model to investigate therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, leading us to examine whether pathways of disease progression are shared across neurodegenerative conditions. Here we use single-nucleus RNA sequencing to profile lesions from 11 postmortem human retinas with age-related macular degeneration and 6 control retinas with no history of retinal disease. We create a machine-learning pipeline based on recent advances in data geometry and topology and identify activated glial populations enriched in the early phase of disease. Examining single-cell data from Alzheimer’s disease and progressive multiple sclerosis with our pipeline, we find a similar glial activation profile enriched in the early phase of these neurodegenerative diseases. In late-stage age-related macular degeneration, we identify a microglia-to-astrocyte signaling axis mediated by interleukin-1 β which drives angiogenesis characteristic of disease pathogenesis. We validated this mechanism using in vitro and in vivo assays in mouse, identifying a possible new therapeutic target for AMD and possibly other neurodegenerative conditions. Thus, due to shared glial states, the retina provides a potential system for investigating therapeutic approaches in neurodegenerative diseases. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 30, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2024
  4. The manifold scattering transform is a deep feature extractor for data defined on a Riemannian manifold. It is one of the first examples of extending convolutional neural network-like operators to general manifolds. The initial work on this model focused primarily on its theoretical stability and invariance properties but did not provide methods for its numerical implementation except in the case of two-dimensional surfaces with predefined meshes. In this work, we present practical schemes, based on the theory of diffusion maps, for implementing the manifold scattering transform to datasets arising in naturalistic systems, such as single cell genetics, where the data is a high-dimensional point cloud modeled as lying on a low-dimensional manifold. We show that our methods are effective for signal classification and manifold classification tasks. 
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  5. Exciting advances in technologies to measure biological systems are currently at the forefront of research. The ability to gather data along an increasing number of omic dimensions has created a need for tools to analyze all of this information together, rather than siloing each technology into separate analysis pipelines. To advance this goal, we introduce a framework called the Single-Cell Multi-Modal GAN (scMMGAN) that integrates data from multiple modalities into a unified representation in the ambient data space for downstream analysis using a combination of adversarial learning and data geometry techniques. The framework’s key improvement is an additional diffusion geometry loss with a new kernel that constrains the otherwise over-parameterized GAN network. We demonstrate scMMGAN’s ability to produce more meaningful alignments than alternative methods on a wide variety of data modalities, and that its output can be used to draw conclusions from real-world biological experimental data. We highlight data from an experiment studying the development of triple negative breast cancer, where we show how scMMGAN can be used to identify novel gene associations and we demonstrate that cell clusters identified only on the scRNAseq data occur in localized spatial patterns that reveal insights on the spatial transcriptomic images. 
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  6. Graph neural networks (GNNs) have been used extensively for addressing problems in drug design and discovery. Both ligand and target molecules are represented as graphs with node and edge features encoding information about atomic elements and bonds respectively. Although existing deep learning models perform remarkably well at predicting physicochemical properties and binding affinities, the generation of new molecules with optimized properties remains challenging. Inherently, most GNNs perform poorly in whole-graph representation due to the limitations of the message-passing paradigm. Furthermore, step-by-step graph generation frameworks that use reinforcement learning or other sequential processing can be slow and result in a high proportion of invalid molecules with substantial post-processing needed in order to satisfy the principles of stoichiometry. To address these issues, we propose a representation-first approach to molecular graph generation. We guide the latent representation of an autoencoder by capturing graph structure information with the geometric scattering transform and apply penalties that structure the representation also by molecular properties. We show that this highly structured latent space can be directly used for molecular graph generation by the use of a GAN. We demonstrate that our architecture learns meaningful representations of drug datasets and provides a platform for goal-directed drug synthesis. 
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  7. In modern relational machine learning it is common to encounter large graphs that arise via interactions or similarities between observations in many domains. Further, in many cases the target entities for analysis are actually signals on such graphs. We propose to compare and organize such datasets of graph signals by using an earth mover’s distance (EMD) with a geodesic cost over the underlying graph. Typically, EMD is computed by optimizing over the cost of transporting one probability distribution to another over an underlying metric space. However, this is inefficient when computing the EMD between many signals. Here, we propose an unbalanced graph EMD that efficiently embeds the unbalanced EMD on an underlying graph into an L1 space, whose metric we call unbalanced diffusion earth mover’s distance (UDEMD). Next, we show how this gives distances between graph signals that are robust to noise. Finally, we apply this to organizing patients based on clinical notes, embedding cells modeled as signals on a gene graph, and organizing genes modeled as signals over a large cell graph. In each case, we show that UDEMD-based embeddings find accurate distances that are highly efficient compared to other methods. 
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  8. We propose a method called integrated diffusion for combining multimodal data, gathered via different sensors on the same system, to create a integrated data diffusion operator. As real world data suffers from both local and global noise, we introduce mechanisms to optimally calculate a diffusion operator that reflects the combined information in data by maintaining low frequency eigenvectors of each modality both globally and locally. We show the utility of this integrated operator in denoising and visualizing multimodal toy data as well as multi-omic data generated from blood cells, measuring both gene expression and chromatin accessibility. Our approach better visualizes the geometry of the integrated data and captures known cross-modality associations. More generally, integrated diffusion is broadly applicable to multimodal datasets generated by noisy sensors collected in a variety of fields. 
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