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An overview of different multi-omics approaches

Multi-omics involves bringing the multiple “omics” together, to get a clearer and more comprehensive picture of biological processes, disease pathology, identify more robust drug targets and biomarkers, and more. This is the multi-omics approach. Linking genome to epigenome, transcriptome to proteome and bridging the gap between genotype and phenotype.

Genomics and transcriptomics

Genomics and transcriptomics can be integrated to prioritise different variants, analyse the function of genes, uncover mechanisms of disease, power drug target identification and fuel biomarker discovery.

In a study published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, researchers developed a multi-omics approach to discover and validate genes in Parkinson’s Disease. This study highlights the limits of a genomics-only approach and how multi-omics can help fill in the gaps and deepen our understanding of not just Parkinson’s Disease, but other complex trait disorders. In a single screening, the team created a new method which combined genomics and transcriptomics insights – far more efficient than the sole implementation of each “omic.”

Epigenomics and transcriptomics

Epigenomics and transcriptomics can tie gene regulation to gene expression, revealing patterns in the data and helping to decipher complex pathways and disease mechanisms. By studying both the epigenome and the transcriptome, researchers can derive new insights into biological processes and diseases pathology.

In a study published in Nature, researchers integrated epigenomic and transcriptomic data on biological processes such as injury, repair and remodelling to create a first-of-its-kind multi-omics map of late-stage myocardial infarction. Not only did the team elucidate and comprehensively explore the pathology of this disease, but by creating this map they have produced an invaluable resource for future researchers to further investigate myocardial infarction, and perhaps even develop new therapies.

Genomics, epigenomics and transcriptomics

The combination of the sequencing from genomics, epigenomics and transcriptomics can help to understand the mechanisms controlling specific phenotypes, uncover new regulatory elements, help identify candidate genes, biomarkers and therapeutic agents.

In another study, published in Nature, researchers have constructed a comprehensive and high-resolution map of the landscape of genetic changes in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), a cancer that exists in diverse forms and can have various causes. This map is the first of its kind to comprehensively characterize the genome, epigenome and transcriptome of CLL. Previous studies have only provided a few puzzle pieces of a CLL map, and each study has been limited in the patients included, using fragmented, limited, or incomplete data.

Genomics and proteomics

The combination of genomics and proteomics can be very effective as it allows the genotype to be linked directly to the phenotype. This approach can elucidate and characterise biological processes, help untangle disease-driving mechanisms and inform the development of therapeutics.

Immune cells constantly travel around the human body, forming connections and communicating with each other in a complex and dynamic network. This constant communication is vital for maintaining our immune system and fighting off disease, but it is also implicated in the development of auto-immune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

In a study published in 2022, researchers developed an interactome map, detailing the network of connections that make up our immune system by integrating protein-protein interaction data with single-cell genomic datasets of different human tissues. This map systematically documents and describes the intracellular wiring of the immune system, from cell-cell connections down to the biophysical properties of surface proteins.

Transcriptomics and proteomics

The combination of transcriptomics and proteomics is powerful as it can tie new discoveries back to known markers and clinical outcomes. This gives insights into how gene expression affects protein function and phenotype.

A study in Nature used proteomics and transcriptomics to demonstrate the role that the nucleolus plays in regulating RNA turnover of pro-inflammatory genes during infection. The study was comprehensive, investigating mechanisms of action and elucidating the role of the protein nucleolin (NCL) and the Rrp6- exosome complex in this process, furthering our understanding of the molecular pathology of inflammation-associated diseases. The findings could potentially improve therapies for cancer, autoimmune disease and sepsis.

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