A scoping review and proposed workflow for multi-omic rare disease research

Katie Kerr, Helen McAneney, Laura J Smyth, Caitlin Bailie, Shane McKee, Amy Jayne McKnight

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Patients with rare diseases face unique challenges in obtaining a diagnosis, appropriate medical care and access to support services. Whole genome and exome sequencing have increased identification of causal variants compared to single gene testing alone, with diagnostic rates of approximately 50% for inherited diseases, however integrated multi-omic analysis may further increase diagnostic yield. Additionally, multi-omic analysis can aid the explanation of genotypic and phenotypic heterogeneity, which may not be evident from single omic analyses.

MAIN BODY: This scoping review took a systematic approach to comprehensively search the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar, and the grey literature databases OpenGrey / GreyLit for journal articles pertaining to multi-omics and rare disease, written in English and published prior to the 30th December 2018. Additionally, The Cancer Genome Atlas publications were searched for relevant studies and forward citation searching / screening of reference lists was performed to identify further eligible articles. Following title, abstract and full text screening, 66 articles were found to be eligible for inclusion in this review. Of these 42 (64%) were studies of multi-omics and rare cancer, two (3%) were studies of multi-omics and a pre-cancerous condition, and 22 (33.3%) were studies of non-cancerous rare diseases. The average age of participants (where known) across studies was 39.4 years. There has been a significant increase in the number of multi-omic studies in recent years, with 66.7% of included studies conducted since 2016 and 33% since 2018. Fourteen combinations of multi-omic analyses for rare disease research were returned spanning genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, phenomics and metabolomics.

CONCLUSIONS: This scoping review emphasises the value of multi-omic analysis for rare disease research in several ways compared to single omic analysis, ranging from the provision of a diagnosis, identification of prognostic biomarkers, distinct molecular subtypes (particularly for rare cancers), and identification of novel therapeutic targets. Moving forward there is a critical need for collaboration of multi-omic rare disease studies to increase the potential to generate robust outcomes and development of standardised biorepository collection and reporting structures for multi-omic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107
JournalOrphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 Apr 2020


  • Adult
  • Epigenomics
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics
  • Rare Diseases/diagnosis
  • Workflow


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