Farm Ireland

Friday 23 February 2018

'Speed Gene' test gets the green light from world experts

A recent study has confirmed the accuracy of a genetic market which was identified by an Irish research firm as the best indicator of the optimum racing distance for thoroughbreds.

The leading equine genomics company Equinome, together with UCD researchers, has been boosted by the publication of four scientific papers about significant advances in the understanding of the genes that contribute to athletic performance in thoroughbred horses.

The papers include a new and enhanced validation of the Equinome 'Speed Gene' test, the identification of new genomic regions crucial to thoroughbred performance and the different responses of certain genes to exercise in racehorses.

Equinome is a UCD spinout company co-founded last year by Dr Emmeline Hill and Jim Bolger.

The company's headquarters are in NovaUCD, which is the university's innovation and technology transfer centre.

In a separate development, a scientific paper published this week by researchers at the Japanese Laboratory of Racing Chemistry (LRC) in Animal Genetics identified the region encompassing the myostatin gene to be highly associated with racing performance in Japanese thoroughbreds.

The study found three genetic markers associated with lifetime earnings and performance ranks, as determined by the Japan Racing Association (JRA).

One of these is the marker that is used in the Equinome speed gene test.

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According to the lead author of the LRC's paper, Dr Teruaki Tozaki: "It is expected that the three genetic markers may be included as genetic diagnostic markers for racing performance measures.

"Importantly, our study supports the research by University College Dublin's Dr Emmeline Hill, published earlier this year, that identified a genetic marker in myostatin as a predictor of best race distance."

Irish Independent