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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."