Mars Petcare acquired OptiGen, LLC, a DNA diagnostics company specializing in canine inherited eye disorders.

The acquisition includes licenses to a portfolio of genetic disease tests patented in the US, Australia and countries in Europe, and an extensive biobank of more than 150,000 samples collected over 20 years representing various canine eye diseases. Moving forward these samples will be used to discover new genetic health markers for dogs.

With this acquisition, Wisdom Panel genetic test kits will now be able to detect over 185 genetic disease mutations that will help breeders select the best breeding matches for genetically healthy offspring. The test kits are provided by Wisdom Health, Mars Petcare's companion animal genetics business.

The acquisition was finalized April 10, 2018, and the companies will manage the transition over the course of 2018. The acquisition of OptiGen comes in addition to another genetic research company acquisition earlier in January 2018. In January, Mars Petcare announced their acquisition of Genoscoper Laboratories. Genoscoper is a Finland-based molecular diagnostics specialist for companion animals. Even before this acquisition, the companies had been working together to use genetic analysis to identify pets’ health risks and make veterinarians' jobs easier.

Genetic research on pets

"DNA testing is the only way to detect carriers or affected puppies with late onset forms of inherited canine eye disorders,” said Cynthia Cole DVM PhD, DACVCP and general manager of Wisdom Health. “Working with breeders, we can help decrease the incidence of these disorders in the future. We're at a pivotal time in companion animal genetic research, and with this acquisition we will add to the growing body of knowledge to help veterinarians' ability to predict and treat inherited eye disorders for dogs."

About companion animal genetic testing:  

  • Genetic tests can detect which animals are carriers for specific diseases, so breeders can avoid mating them with other carriers.
  • Genetic testing can identify mixed-breed dogs at risk for developing genetic conditions that would otherwise go undiagnosed, allowing earlier intervention and/or counseling to help the owner understand the condition and know what to expect.    
  • The initial products to incorporate these genetic tests for canine eye disorders will be Optimal Selection and My Dog DNA designed for breeding dogs.