The scientists whose research created the Horse Genome Project began meeting in 1995 and most recently met in Italy in September of 2018. The group met to create a set of genetic testing standards that reinforce the need for scientific validation when using research discoveries in clinical practice.
The Horse Genome Project is a group of more than 100 international scientists who sequenced a horse's genome in an effort to learn what each piece of the genome does. The sequencing of the horse's genome has allowed researchers to test for genetic mutations that cause equine diseases and learn how best to treat them.
While the creation of these standards won't stop companies from selling genetic tests that have no scientific backing, they will make veterinarians more aware of the difference between testing that hasn't been validated and testing that has science at its core.
Genetic testing on horses is similar to that in people: Just because a horse has a genetic susceptibility to a disease does not mean the horse will get the disease. Client education is key, the scientists reiterate.
The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reports these scientific guidelines from the Horse Genome Project:
- “Scientific discovery should be reproducible and subject to the peer-review process.
- Scientific research projects must conform to best practice in relation to owners' consent for use of samples and research ethics.
- Industry stakeholders must be provided with the opportunities for education so that scientific developments are best communicated for translation into practice that will have the greatest potential to benefit the horse.
- Clear differentiation must be made between scientific developments, commercial opportunity and opinion.
- Some genetic tests may be diagnostic for the presence or absence of a trait; others may be used as a screening and selection tool for prediction of potential to develop a trait.
- The integration of genetic information with traditional breeding approaches will be important for the sustainability of a healthy horse population for the future.”
Read more at the AVMA.
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