How an open-access database of dog and cat genomes can help advance individualised pet health

Waltham scientists and veterinary professionals across Mars Petcare are partnering with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to develop one of the largest open-access sets of cat and dog genomes in the world.

The aim is to sequence the full genomes of 20,000 pets entering the MARS PETCARE BIOBANK™ over the next 10 years.

Mars Petcare anticipates releasing the first raw genome sequences as soon as they become available throughout 2023, with more, processed data to follow as pets enter the biobank study. Mars Petcare scientists will analyse data and publish initial insights for the scientific community throughout 2023 and beyond. 

Better science can lead to individualised pet health solutions

How exactly can this genetic data make for healthier cats and dogs in the future? By linking genetic data to anonymised lifestyle and medical records, banked biological samples and behavior and lifestyle data from the cats and dogs enrolled in the biobank, Waltham scientists and Mars Petcare veterinary professionals hope to find new ways to predict and prevent a wide range of conditions, such as diabetes, skin and dental issues, orthopedic conditions, infectious diseases and cancer, to name but a few.

Insights from this data can help advance individualised pet health care for each unique dog and cat.

Open-access genetic data could power ongoing initiatives

The full genome data will be available to scientists all over the world over the next years, as more pet owners enroll their pets in the biobank study. Scientists will be able to access the data via the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Sequence Read Archive. This open access database will give scientists and veterinary professionals worldwide the opportunity to advance their work and investigate, for instance, 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.

Mars Petcare anticipates releasing the first raw genome sequences and genetic variant data as they become available throughout 2023, with more data to follow as more owners enroll their healthy pets in the biobank study.

“We’re already seeing progress in human health where insights into genetics can offer a blueprint for a person’s individual health care needs,” says Nefertiti Greene, Mars Petcare Science & Diagnostics President. “Looking at the opportunity to better understand cat and dog genetics through specifically designed gene sequencing studies is a significant milestone that will help us deliver on our Purpose: A Better World For Pets. Together with our partners at the Broad Institute we hope to find several key ways to provide clinically focused, real-world data that are needed to truly determine the effectiveness of precision medicine and integral to scientific breakthroughs for the future of pet health.”

Read more about the MARS PETCARE BIOBANK and how our partnerships with leading experts and organisations are helping us drive pet care science at scale.