Spotlight on “Omics” and how they’re revolutionising equine veterinary medicine

Omics Online Collection from EVJ covers genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. © Rossdale’s Laboratories

Free access to a virtual issue of the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) focusing on the field of omics is available to view online.

Omics refers to a field of biological sciences including genomics (studying DNA), transcriptomics (RNA), proteomics (proteins) and metabolomics (metabolites). Omics encompasses powerful tools that are rapidly transforming understanding of disease, and making a significant impact on equine veterinary medicine.

the Omics Online Collection from EVJ covering genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, has been coordinated by EVJ’s Associate Editors Mandy Peffers and Pablo Murcia, with guest editors Carrie Finno, James Anderson and Macarena Sanz. They emphasize the importance of promoting open science to advance the field of equine research, and have included an editorial on open research by Mandy Peffers and Wiley Senior Journals Publishing Manager Leah Webster.

Peppers said it was exciting to see how the equine veterinary sector is now keeping pace with human medicine in the omics revolution. “As we continue to advance, there will be more tools at our disposal for the diagnosis and treatment of equine disease.”

Carrie Finno has contributed a comprehensive editorial in support of the nine EVJ articles demonstrating how genomic and transcriptomic approaches have been used to investigate equine diseases. She noted that improvements in the annotation of the equine genome would likely accelerate the rate of discovery as equine genomics and transcriptomics continue to evolve.

“With the need for large sample sizes of well-phenotyped horses to study the most complex diseases, equine genomics and transcriptomics research will likely become increasingly collaborative, similar to the current status of human genomics initiatives.

“Aligned with this collaborative effort is the strong need for publicly available genomic and transcriptomic data that are accessible to all researchers,” Finno said.

Macarena Sanz, whose editorial navigates five articles on the topic, says the relationship between microbiota, health and disease in humans has been investigated for years but similar studies in horses have only been recently published.

“Although equine microbiomics is in its infancy, new studies will provide an exciting insight into the nature of the equine microbiome and its potential role in the development of disease. Knowledge of the microbiome is key to advancing prophylactic, diagnostic and therapeutic options and to better understand the pathophysiology of equine conditions.”

James Anderson prefaces five papers on advances made in equine medicine within the disciplines of proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics (a subset of metabolomics). He said that while the field is in its infancy within equine veterinary science, it looks likely to have a significant impact in the years to come.

“Omics technologies have enhanced our knowledge of the molecular world and provided a fascinating insight into the composition and functions of these components across a range of different animal species.

“Particularly for equine science and medicine they have increased our understanding of molecular changes in disease and informed the development of diagnostic tests,” he said.