Importance of metabolomics to medicine

Importance of metabolomics to medicine



Metabolomics is useful in "investigat[ing] the composition (identification and quantification of metabolites) as well as the dynamics (metabolic rates and fluxes) of the metabolome in relation to genetic and environmental conditions" (3). Metabolomics is the study of small-molecule metabolites that result from biological processes. These metabolites are the end products of biological processes occurring within biological cells and tissues.

The Human Metabolome ProjectEdit

The Humam Metabolome Project, funded by Genome Canada, began in 2005. The goal of the metabolome project is to improve identifcation/prognosis/monitoring of disease, to gain a better understanding of drug metabolism, to provide paralells between the human genome and the metabolome and finally to further the field of metabolomics, which is still fairly new. 

Metabolome Database: Human Metabolome Database (HMDB)Edit

Found at, this database includes over 41,500 human metabolite entries and also contains information about over 5,600 protein sequences linked to these metabolites. This database is helpful because it contains links to three kinds of data surrounding each metabolite: chemical data, clinical data, and molecular biology and biochemistry (

Uses of MetabolomicsEdit

Metabolomics has the ability to give a present-time sample of the biological processes being undergone in a specific cell/tissue at a specific time. This is useful because the metabolites present at a particular time offer insight into the physiology and health of a particular cell/tissue.(2)

One specific use of metabolomics is in toxicity assessment of a particular biological system. Metabolite analysis can detect physiological changes resulting from chemical toxicity.

Also, metabolomics is extremely useful in functional genomics, because metabolites are useful tools for determining phenotypes resulting from specific genetic manipulations.

Measuring the MetabolomeEdit

In 1974, NMR spectroscopy was used to measure metabolites in unmodified samples. In 1984, H NMR spectroscopy was used to potentially detect diabetes mellitus through pattern recognition methods(1) . These approaches were utilized in the development of METLIN, the first database of human metabolites.


1. Lens EM, Wilson ID (2007). "Analytical strategies in metabolomics". J Proteome Res 6 (2): 443-58. PMID: 7269702 (

2. Daviss, Bennett (April 2005). "Growing pains for metabolomics" (

3. Human Metabolome Database:

3. Functional Genomics Center Zurich (July 2007). "Metabolomics". (