Expertise Diag4Zoo pour le cheval

Unique expertise in early disease detection, pathology monitoring and routine test development

Technical and scientific expertise in molecular biology

The DIAG4ZOO team provides equine industry players with technical and scientific expertise in molecular biology (genomics, transcriptomics), bioinformatics and biostatistics, in order to develop scientific knowledge about horses, and improve animal health monitoring and performance.

Thanks to the technologies used (sequencing, PCR, qPCR or real-time PCR, Machine Learning…), and its know-how in the identification and field or clinical evaluation of RNA/DNA biomarkers, the team has developed diagnostic tests for early detection of pathology, infection, inflammation, the beneficial or toxic effects of a drug or molecule, but also diet-related effects (microbiome, etc.). Finally, the company offers its technical expertise in genetics for breed or parentage certification.

DIAG4ZOO has thus been able to contribute its expertise and added value to several equine health players, notably in the detection and monitoring of osteo-articular pathologies and in the development of field diagnostics for anti-doping control in horse racing.

Osteoarticular pathologies

Expertise Diag4Zoo pour le cheval

The DIAG4ZOO scientific team collaborated with the Centre Européen du Cheval de Mont le Soie (Belgium) on osteochondrosis in competition horses. Studies focused on the identification and validation of prognostic blood biomarkers to characterize the pathology: analysis of the expression of genes involved in osteochondrosis, according to the age of the horses or the joint affected by this pathology.

Osteochondrosis is a developmental disease that has a major impact on a horse’s well-being and performance. In particular, it triggers inflammatory processes in older horses.

An initial study has established the transcriptomic profile of leukocytes present in the blood of horses affected by this pathology. Genes differentially expressed in these leukocytes were clearly identified, and an analysis of metabolic pathways showed a clear deregulation of several signaling pathways linked to cartilage formation or repair.

Further studies detected age-related changes in these differentially expressed genes.

These works have shown that osteochondrosis-related genes are differentially expressed in horses at different ages (under 12 months, 18-24 months, over 30 months) compared to their controls. Some of these genes are involved in cell differentiation, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, and inflammation.

Diagnostic for routine use

The DIAG4ZOO team collaborated with the Laboratoire des Courses Hippiques (France) to identify indirect markers of the use of EPO as a doping agent in racehorses.

This laboratory is at the forefront of applied equine anti-doping research. It is one of the pioneers in the use of the equine biological passport (EBP) and alternative control methods based on omics or molecular biology technologies.
The aim of this partnership was, firstly, to identify blood markers associated with the presence of EPO in horses and, secondly, to develop a PCR test based on these markers for routine use.

An initial analysis using messenger RNA sequencing was carried out on samples of “whole blood” or all blood cells from several horses, in order to measure the expression of all genes present in the blood. These samples were taken before, during and after the EPO injection protocol.

At the end of this first sequencing stage, 49 differentially expressed genes were selected and analyzed in a second stage (validation stage) by qPCR or real-time PCR.

Among the list of 49 genes analyzed, some were selected for their low inter-individual variation and their statistically significant link with EPO administration, up to 60 days after the start of the doping period.
These blood cell RNA biomarkers, selected and validated by the DIAG4ZOO team, can be considered as robust doping biomarkers and used routinely to establish a long-term detection strategy for EPO abuse in horse racing.

Expertise Diag4Zoo pour le cheval
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