Technologies that measure some characteristic of a large family of cellular molecules, such as genes, proteins, or small metabolites, have been named by appending the suffix “-omics,” as in “genomics.” Omics refers to the collective technologies used to explore the roles, relationships, and actions of the various types of molecules that make up the cells of an organism.

These technologies include:

  • Genomics, the study of genes and their function
  • Proteomics, the study of proteins
  • Metabonomics, the study of molecules involved in cellular metabolism
  • Transcriptomics, the study of the mRNA
  • Glycomics, the study of cellular carbohydrates
  • Lipomics, the study of cellular lipids
  • Etc.


Omics technologies provide the tools needed to look at the differences in DNA, RNA, proteins, and other cellular molecules between species and among individuals of a species. These types of molecular profiles can vary with cell or tissue exposure to chemicals or drugs and thus have potential use in toxicological assessments. Omics experiments can often be conducted in high-throughput assays that produce tremendous amounts of data on the functional and/or structural alterations within the cell. These new methods have already facilitated significant advances in our understanding of the molecular responses to cell and tissue damage, and of perturbations in functional cellular systems.

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