Understanding Pulmonary Diseases with Omics Approaches

Omics approaches, including genomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, proteomics and metabolomics, have become widespread in recent decades. These high-throughput technologies that provide researchers with a snapshot of biological systems, aid in drug development and increase our understanding of disease mechanisms. Early successes in the use of omics technologies, and the growing number of available omics datasets, have led to optimism about the future of precision medicine, in which diagnostic tests and treatments are increasingly tailored to individuals’ genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

We reviewed the ways in which omics approaches have advanced our understanding of pulmonary diseases, focusing on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Thus, far omics studies have provided insights into disease mechanisms and created a foundation for discovering biomarkers and treatments though few of these have been translated into clinically utilized products. Among the most salient genomics findings are associations of the 17q21 locus, HHIP and MUC5B genetic variants with asthma, COPD and IPF, respectively. Transcriptomic studies have identified bitter taste receptor and KLF5 genes as potential drug targets for asthma. Epigenomic studies have identified methylation patterns specific to COPD, asthma and IPF. Though there have been relatively fewer published proteomic and metabolomic studies for pulmonary diseases, there are promising results suggesting these techniques will lead to biologically actionable insights. As the omics knowledge base grows to include a greater breadth of patients and data types, integrative analysis strategies will increasingly enable advances in pulmonary disease precision medicine.