InterAct is a large-scale international collaboration to explore how genetic and lifestyle factors can contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes. The consortium comprises researchers from nine European countries and India and aims to understand how genetic and lifestyle behavioural factors, including diet and physical activity, influence risk of developing type 2 diabetes - and ultimately to target this knowledge to inform preventative measures against the disease.

[Genome Research Limited]


The largest study of its type in the world, InterAct uses data from existing large-scale observational studies of multiple cohorts to identify how specific genes and lifestyle behaviours can, in combination, influence the risk of a person developing diabetes.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute plays a role in the collaboration through the teams of Dr Inês Barroso and Dr Panos Deloukas as well as the sample logistics and genotyping teams by contributing to the genetic study design, performing GWAS on the samples and statistical analysis of the genetic effects and the interaction between lifestyle and genes.

To carry out its research, InterAct has constructed a set of around 10,000 cases with type 2 diabetes and a similar number of controls, free from the disease. This data set is extracted from an existing multicentre cohort called the EPIC study, whose 350,000 participants are representative of 10 European countries.

By bringing together such large volumes of data from existing studies, InterAct can look at how different lifestyle interventions might be more or less successful, dependent on an individual's genetic make-up. This large-scale approach will counteract the problems of previous smaller scale studies and it's findings will be a boon to explore how the discovery of these gene-lifestyle interactions might help to develop strategies for prevention.

Ultimately, InterAct aims to shape information for patients suffering from or at risk of diabetes and to inform public health strategies. As part of this work, InterAct has a strong programme to train the next generation of researchers in the field.

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