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Team Describes Analytical Framework for Assessing Gene-Environment Interactions

In a methods paper in PLOS Genetics, a Brigham and Women's Hospital- and Harvard Medical School-led team outlines a framework to test for quantitative trait interactions, particularly those with genetic and environmental contributions. The "robust interaction testing using sample splitting," or RITSS, method brings in sample splitting and test statistic methods to test for interactions between genetic variants and environmental conditions that affect quantitative traits, the researchers write, noting that RITSS "can utilize any suitable machine/statistical learning approach to screen for interactions and rigorously tests these aggregated signals using sample splitting and robust test statistics." When they applied RITSS to simulated and real sample sets, including lung function and height measures from the UK Biobank project, for example, the authors found that the RITSS approach "discovers highly significant interactions based on subcomponents of genetic risk scores."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.