Genome database project aims to advance preventive pet care

Mars Petcare and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard create open-access database of dog and cat genomes

Advancing individualized pet health care for future generations of dogs and cats is the driving force behind a new open-access genome database project.

Mars Petcare has partnered with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in creating the Mars Petcare Biobank Genomes initiative, where genomes from 10,000 dogs and 10,000 cats are enrolled and will be sequenced in the next 10 years.

“This project could help us further understand how we can build individualized pet care solutions for each unique dog or cat, which has the potential to become part of routine healthcare practice,” says Jennifer Welser, DVM, DACVO, Mars Veterinary Health chief medical officer.

The full genome sequence and variant data of the 20,000 pets will be made publicly available via the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Sequence Read Archive, enabling scientific investigation across a range of areas, such as in-depth dog- and cat-breed ancestry, new genetic mutations specific to certain dog and cat breeds and how they link to diseases, as well as pets’ aging process.

“As veterinarians, we’re always looking to improve patient outcomes and for new ways to solve some of the most pressing pet healthcare challenges such as obesity, skin conditions, dental disease, infectious and zoonotic diseases, orthopedic disorders and, of course, cancer,” Dr. Welser says. “I look forward to seeing how the open access data can enable new insights supporting individualized pet health.”

Mars Petcare anticipates releasing the first raw genome sequences as soon as they become available throughout 2023, with additional, processed data to follow as pets are enrolled in the biobank study.

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