Metabolomics & Metabolism

Metabolism in Life Science Research

Metabolism is the sum of reactions that occur within each cell to provide the body with energy and building blocks. It provides a window into real-time cellular physiology and biochemistry of cells and tissues, and as a result, can be thought of as the most direct, functional readout of the interaction between an organism’s genetics and environment. By analyzing how metabolism changes due to natural genetic variation, disease states or from experimental studies, researchers have been able to elucidate new mechanistic insight into biological processes, including the discovery of disease markers, treatment responses, and new drug targets. Metabolism research and understanding has become an important and powerful tool in life sciences research and drug discovery, highlighting the importance of metabolism research.

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Metabolomics: A Key to Understanding Diseases

Metabolomics is the primary tool used to understand variation in metabolism. It can be defined as the simultaneous measurement of hundreds to thousands of small molecule metabolites in a cell, tissue, or bio-fluid. These small molecules participate directly in most of the energetics (e.g. ATP) and biosynthetic processes in the body. For example, they are the molecules used to build proteins, DNA, and RNA, and to transport nutrients and waste products.  Common metabolomics use cases include drug target identification and validation, biomarker discovery, understanding disease mechanisms, and incorporation in multi omic studies. The analytical tools typically used for metabolomics are based on either mass spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (“NMR”).  GMet’s metabolomics platform and techniques are based on a suite of rigorous, well-validated and highly published mass spectrometry tools and methods.

Many Questions Can Be Addressed Using Metabolomics:

How does this drug work, and can I develop a test to predict who will respond well to it?

What is the mechanism of the mutation driving tumor growth?

Do these cells have normal energetic levels, or are they missing key nutrients for growth?

Is a tissue experiencing redox stress?

These scientific and medical questions, and others like them, can often be addressed through the science and technology of metabolomics –   the study of small biological molecules called metabolites, that result from a wide range of cellular processes.  Metabolites are present in all biological samples, and their analysis can provide deep insight into physiology.

As a discipline, metabolomics seeks to identify, quantify and analyze these compounds in aggregate, as a molecular class, to gain valuable insights into the state of biological systems: cells, tissues, organs, and complete living organisms. As a result, metabolomics  is critical to multiple scientific fields, including medicine, biology and environmental science, helping reveal information about disease, health and how external factors impact living organisms.

In short, metabolomics is a tool that is essential to metabolic studies, and yet also provides insight beyond metabolism itself: decoding the language of small molecules within your biological system of interest can be the key that unlocks mechanisms and new biomarkers. . .

Metabolomics Defined

Individual metabolites can provide very focused information about biology:  a particular mutation, genotype or disease state can be characterized by aberrant levels of specific metabolites (e.g. elevated triglycerides linked with cardiovascular disease).  Metabolomics goes beyond individual metabolite assays, delivering metabolite level profiles in a comprehensive picture of very broad sets of all the small molecule metabolites within a biological system. These metabolites encompass many natural compound classes, such as  sugars, sugar-phosphates and carboxylic acids; amino acids, fatty acids and lipids; nucleotides, and small molecule hormones, as well as many other organic molecules.

To capture this idea of the full complement of small molecules in biology, the term “metabolome” first surfaced in 1998 in a review article by scientist Stephen Oliver. Over the two decades since the term’s inception, pioneers in the field have conducted extensive  research to inform and shape this area of science… including the team of scientists behind General Metabolics, who have been deeply engaged in the development of metabolomics since the inception of the field.

Today, the analysis of metabolites has expanded to include comprehensive analysis of hydrophobic molecules called fatty acids and lipids – frequently referred to as “lipidomics.”  With this distinction, metabolomics is now more often thought of as delivering data on the more polar and hydrophilic metabolites, while lipidomics provides insight into hydrophobic classes of metabolites such as phospholipids, steroids, and signaling molecules such as eicosanoids and prosteglandins.  There are not clear lines that define which species are polar metabolites vs. lipids.

The scope of metabolomics is broad. Some key areas where metabolomics is vital include biomarker discovery, disease research, precision medicine, environmental studies and nutritional sciences.

Researchers begin examining and interpreting the data after using these analytical tools to gain large datasets. With so much complex information to get through, researchers use two methods to break down data:

Targeted: In a targeted approach, researchers focus on a specific set of pre-defined metabolites. Targeted metabolomics use analytical techniques tailored to the known properties of these pre-defined metabolites to get the most accurate results. This approach is beneficial when the goal is to quantify and understand specific pathways or monitor changes in known biomarkers. It offers precision and efficiency when studying a defined subset of the metabolome.

Non-targeted: Non-targeted metabolomics involves a broader exploration of the entire metabolome without pre-defining specific metabolites of interest. These analytical techniques are designed to capture a wide range of metabolites, providing a comprehensive snapshot of the metabolic landscape. This approach is valuable when the goal is to unravel novel pathways, identify biomarkers or better understand the metabolic dynamics in a given system.

The choice between a targeted and non-targeted approach depends on the research objectives. A targeted method suits investigations with specific hypotheses or a focus on well-defined pathways, offering efficiency and precision. Comparatively, a non-targeted technique is better suited for discovery-driven research, enabling a broader exploration of the metabolome and uncovering unexpected insights. A combination of both often provides the most comprehensive understanding of complex metabolic processes.


Metabolomics Use Cases

Metabolomics is about more than just lab work — it is a game-changer in health research, diagnostics and drug development.

This area of research plays a pivotal role in identifying and characterizing biomarkers — indicators that provide crucial insights into an organism’s physiological state. The discovery of biomarkers through metabolomics offers a diagnostic window into various conditions for human health and disease research.

By analyzing unique metabolic signatures associated with diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders, researchers can unveil specific biomarkers that serve as early indicators. This information facilitates early diagnosis and opens avenues for monitoring disease progression and assessing treatment responses quickly.

Metabolomics contributes significantly to precision medicine, tailoring medical interventions to individual variations. By analyzing an individual’s metabolic profile, clinicians can gain insights into how a person’s body processes drugs, responds to treatments and manages overall health.

This personalized approach allows for optimizing therapeutic strategies, minimizing adverse effects and increasing treatment efficiency. Metabolomics empowers health care providers to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach, ushering in a more personalized era of health care.

Metabolomics is a powerful tool for drug discovery and development. Researchers can assess the efficiency, safety and potential side effects of drugs by scrutinizing the metabolic changes induced by drug candidates. This accelerates the drug development process, enhancing the chances of bringing safe and effective medications to the market.

Transform Your Research With GMet’s Advanced Metabolomics Technology

General Metabolics is transforming metabolomics research through our advanced technology platform. Our suite accelerates research speed and scaling by leveraging high throughput methods and high-resolution mass spectrometry, offering unprecedented insights. From therapeutics development to biomarker discovery, our tools empower researchers to navigate from broad explorations to focused inquiries, using flow-injection and LCMS/MS approaches.

Our software streamlines data processing, serving as your surrogate informatics team. The interactive Data Visualization Dashboard, informed by decades of metabolomics experience, facilitates independent exploration of datasets. Researchers can dynamically select features of interest, explore metabolic network maps and calculate real-time pairwise differences.


Additionally, our platform seamlessly integrates genomics and metabolomics datasets, uncovering novel biological mechanisms. This integrated multi-omics approach provides an intuitive, interpretable environment, adding genomic context to metabolomics and metabolites. Contact GMet to elevate your metabolomics research — experience the transformative possibilities of our technology today.

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