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Metabolomics and Their Applications

BY: Shalini Balan | Category: Careers | Submitted: 2012-01-05 10:01:39
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Article Summary: "What is Metabolomics? Metabolomics allows scientists to measure physiological effects and to monitor for adverse reactions to drugs. Metabolomics is of interest to physicians because it may lead to improvements in the diagnosis and treatments of human diseases. .."

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Metabolomics--also known as metabolite profiling or metabonomics--is the study of the low-molecular weight metabolites such as fats in the cells of organisms, metabolic intermediates, hormones and other signaling molecules, and secondary metabolites in the cells of organisms at specific times and under specific conditions. The field of metabolomics is closely related with biology, chemistry, mathematics, and computer science. Metabolomics involves the rapid and through analysis of metabolites an organism. The techniques applied often give accurate measurement of the metabolites.

A metabolite is usually defined as any molecule less than 1 kDa in size. It is often difficult to analyze the entire range of metabolites by a single analytical method. The first metabolite database called METLIN was developed by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in 2005 and following that a first draft of the human metabolome was completed by the , scientists at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. They found out nearly 2500 metabolites, 1200 drugs and 3500 food components which are found in the human system.

Metabolomics as a discipline makes use of analytical processes such separation methods and detection methods.Seperation methods may include Gas chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), Capillary electrophoresis (CE).And detection methods include Mass spectrometry (MS), Desorption electrospray ionization (DESI), Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. These methods enable the detection of thousands of signals in cell fractions, tissues, biological fluids, or exhaled breath.

When gas chromatography, which in general is used to separate volatile components is used along with mass spectrometry gives a perfect result and is widely used than the other methods. Its main advantage is that it gives a very high chromatographic resolution. In case of High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), wider range of metabolites can be potentially measured. But Capillary electrophoresis (CE) is said to be more efficient than with higher separation efficiency than High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).After separation of the particles by various analytical methods Mass spectrometry (MS) is used to identify and to quantify metabolites. On the other hand Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy doesn't depend on the separation of the particles which saves lot of time and they directly go to the further process.


Metabolomics allows scientists to measure physiological effects and to monitor for adverse reactions to drugs. Metabolomics is of interest to physicians because it may lead to improvements in the diagnosis and treatments of human diseases.

Application of metabolomics seen in the raw material production process.

It's a new emerging field that arises interest in pharmaceutical industry. Metabolomics is now finding applications in drug discovery and development pipeline, from lead compound discovery to post-approval drug surveillance. Metabolomics can be used to improve biomarker identification for monitoring disease status and drug efficiency and to monitor drug metabolism and toxicity. They are also used to smooth the progress of clinical trial testing and to improve post-approval drug monitoring.

Metabolomics has been developed as a platform for analytical chemistry for the deeper analysis of the biochemical composition of biological materials.

Metabolomics has been widely used in the medical industry for disease monitoring and the discovery of infection biomarkers.

They are used in microbial fermentation industry in the production of beer and high value chemicals.
Metabolic is been widely used in plant sciences than in any other , it has helped to understand the functioning of the plants which in turn has helped to improve the plant based products. This has largely increased the knowledge of the biochemical composition of our crop-based foods and how it can be improved through targeted breeding process which may give an increased production.
Metabolomics holds great promise for application in in vivo and in vitro toxicity screening, personalized medicine, and exposure assessment. Metabolomic studies of tissue and biological fluids from animal models have lead to the development of corollary markers for human biological fluids that are educational of some specific cellular and tissue events.

Fruit crops such as melon, citrus and grape, raspberry, strawberry and cranberry have been subjected to metabolomics analyses. Through this study , the process involved in fruit ripening, cultivation conditions, storage and shelf-life has been investigated and the biochemical changes involved in them is been analyzed .

Even with a promising future with metabolomics still it has its own limitations because processes involved in metabolomics are hindered by many unsolved problems and particularly the lack of well established along with standardized methods or procedures. There are still difficulties with the identification of the metabolites influenced by a given nutritional intervention.

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