What makes metabolomics such a promising technology?
Metabolomics is the study of the small-molecule metabolite profile of a biological organism, with the metabolome jointly representing all metabolites. What is so exciting about metabolomics is that the metabolome is the very end product of the genetic setup of an organism, as well as the sum of all influences it is exposed to, such as nutrition, environmental factors, or treatment.
Genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics merely indicate the potential cause for a phenotypic response, but cannot predict what will happen at the next level.
Metabolomics is different in that it provides a functional readout of the physiological state of an organism as determined by the sum of its genetic blueprint, regulation, protein abundance, and environmental influences. It includes analysis of large arrays of metabolites, thereby extracting biochemical information that reflects the true functional endpoints of biological events.
Metabolomics: One technology - many applications:
There have been many reports on direct applications of Targeted Metabolomics (risp. BIOCRATES' solutions) in sectors such as life sciences, clinical research, nutrition research, personalized medicine and pharmaceutical drug development.
What is unique about the Biocrates approach?
There are two approaches to metabolomics: targeted metabolomics and metabolic profiling. Targeted metabolomics is the identification and quantification of defined sets of structurally known and biochemically annotated metabolites and is based on a detailed understanding of biochemical pathways.
One major advantage of targeted metabolomics is that it generally provides quantitative information (i.e. the molecular concentrations of metabolites involved in a pathway) that facilitate the immediate understanding of deviations from normal. Interpretation of targeted metabolomics data is straightforward, regardless of the cohort investigated, such as healthy versus diseased or treated versus untreated populations.
Newborn screening – THE success story of targeted metabolomics
Targeted metabolomics was co-pioneered by the one of the founders of Biocrates, Professor Dr Adelbert Roscher, in the mid-1990's. Roscher found that neonatal screening using mass spectrometry permits detection of more than 20 monogenic inborn errors of metabolism. Today, dried blood samples of about 1,000 newborns, received from all over Germany via regular mail, are screened at Professor Roscher’s laboratory in Munich. Biocrates was founded on the premise that the successful screening of newborns may be extended to the general population.
Advances in mass spectrometry—a prerequisite for metabolomics
The targeted metabolomics approach being pursued by Biocrates was rendered possible by significant advances in mass spectrometry. Quantitative tandem mass spectrometry meets the most stringent quality control criteria for routine diagnostics. As monoparametric biomarkers will be gradually replaced by multiparametric approaches, the specificity and sensitivity of biomarkers is expected to be significantly improved.