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Archive for December, 2014


Extra credit assignment- Metabolomics

BIOL 2360

Travis Peayarlal


Metabolomics is under the field of the “omics”. It involves the characterization of very small molecules known as metabolites found in biological samples. In epidemiology or disease mechanisms, it is considered a new and emerging form of technology which have gained a lot of attention. This outburst of advancement in disease diagnostics and analysis will encourage more growth in future projects under the field of metabolomics. A prime example where it will be useful is for cancer where there is urgent need for precise and cost efficient diagnostic tools and a dire urge to produce working therapies along with valid biomarkers to help with predicting accurate response to the therapy.

It is interesting to note that metabolomics have been known for decades but never drew scientist’s attention as compared to the omics such as genomics, transcriptiomics and proteomics. In the past metabolomics have only been used to help decipher inborn genetic errors of metabolism and congenital disorders. But now with the advancement of technology, new instruments have been developed which sparked the insurgence of attention metabolomics is now receiving. These include: nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), gas chromatography, liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (MS), along with software such as informatics and chemometrics.


Diagram showing the metabolomic process

Diagram showing the metabolomic process

As compared to all the other omics metabolomics is the most promising due to:

  • Since the physical changes (phenotype) are cases of adaptations in metabolome (organism), distresses are increased when translated to the metabolome which makes metabolomics a higly sensitive method as compared to genomics and tanscriptomics.
  • It is a lot more cost effective than other omics
  • It is easier when comparing information over certain conditions and biochemical derangements.
  • It is easier when transferring data analysis from organism to organism.

For diseases, metabolomics has several advantages than other omics for example in diabetes research where it:

  1. It can use a lot less smaller molecule metabolites and,
  2. Provide a method for measuring integrated phenotype’s changes in the genome as well as for transcriptome and proteome.

For a particular experiment where the aim was to create ways of transplanting pancreatic islet cells, NMR mass isotopomer have been used to research glucose metabolism in the cells that secretes insulin and also mitochondrial pathways that are capable of controlling glucose responsiveness. The cells are cultured [U-13C] glucose (D.Nagrath et al. 2011). Then the NMR-based isotopomer analyses the secretion of glutamate. This gives the opportunity of determining glucose to pyruvate along with its entry into the Krebs cycle via enzymatic conversions to Pyruvate dehydrogenase then into acetyl CoA. The isotopomer’s analysis encourages and results in the relative rates of each flux due to observing the components secreted during each cycle.

There are many more uses of metabolomics and it seems to have a lot of development in the future mainly in the areas of advanced metabolite detection mechanisms and data analysis which would provide impetus for clinical medicine in a wide scale.