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COVID-19 Can Cause Serious Illness

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is highly contagious and has quickly spread around the world, resulting in the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people infected with the virus will experience very mild-to-moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment. However, some will become seriously ill and require treatment in hospital intensive care units (ICU), where COVID-19 can lead to multi-organ dysfunction, and sometimes death. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions are more likely to develop serious illness.

How is Severity Associated with Demographics?

Currently, there are still major gaps in our understanding of how COVID-19 disease severity is associated with the host’s age, gender, and pre-existing conditions, limiting therapeutic options. The reasons behind the wide variability in individual responses to COVID-19 are poorly understood. This complexity calls for innovative ways to discover underlying pathologic pathways and to identify potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of COVID-19. A better understanding of the host’s metabolic responses associated with COVID-19 is required to expand our knowledge about the pathogenesis of patients under different symptomatic conditions and to assist in the identification of disease biomarkers and the development of diagnostic panels, as well as possible therapeutic strategies.

Moreover, research has been faced with unprecedented circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting the ability of patients to access the lab for the collection of blood plasma, serum, and fecal samples. This dynamic has slowed or prevented many research programs globally.

Metabolomics Research Can Shed Light on Patient Response Pathways

Metabolon’s technology provides a high-fidelity and reproducible analysis of a biological sample’s (serum, plasma, stool sample, etc.) metabolomic profile. Metabolon offers the ability to understand what metabolites are changing in each individual patient in response to COVID-19 infection. These findings will elucidate how a patient’s age, gender, and pre-existing conditions correlate to metabolic changes and with COVID-19 severity and outcome. Global metabolomics offers the opportunity to profile thousands of biochemicals in an unbiased fashion to enable the discovery of novel disease mechanisms and biomarkers of COVID-19 severity and outcome.

Moreover, to continue to support your metabolomic research needs, including facilitating remote clinical trials, Metabolon has validated alternative sampling methods to meet decentralized testing location needs. These novel methods are an alternative to in-clinic visits, allowing monitoring of vulnerable patients and testing of remote populations without escalating sampling costs. For instance, Metabolon has validated the use of dried blood spot (DBS) cards for our metabolomics platform. This allows only a few drops of capillary blood from a finger to be tested for metabolic changes. Furthermore, through our collaboration with DNA Genotek, we found for the first time that the OMNImet®•GUT device can be used for room temperature collection of stool samples for metabolomics studies. This dramatically expands the accessibility of metabolomics for gut microbiome studies.

Metabolon has Validated Tests for Exploratory Research

Recognized for our cutting-edge approach to metabolomics, Metabolon has been a valued resource for COVID-19 researchers worldwide. Our actionable metabolomic insights can help improve our understanding of why some patients are at the highest risk of severe infection so that in the future, physicians can most effectively treat them. Metabolon is the industry leader in the ability to reveal metabolic perturbations across all biochemical pathways including amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleotides, microbiota metabolism, energy, cofactors and vitamins, xenobiotics, and novel metabolites. Metabolon’s global metabolomics can detect and identify 5400+ metabolites from various biological sources. Given that metabolism represents the integration of genetic and non-genetic factors such as microbiome and lifestyle, it is a uniquely poised modality to assess health outcomes and severity of the disease, particularly relevant to understanding the trajectory of COVID-19 infection. Finally, Metabolon’s validation of DBS and the OMNImet®•GUT device for metabolomic studies provides a valid solution for exploratory research on blood and stool-derived metabolites when access to, or appropriate storage and handling of blood and stool samples is limited or not possible. Metabolon’s metabolomic insights will help inform the development of personalized diagnostics, prognostics, and novel therapeutics to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

See how Metabolon can advance your path to preclinical and clinical insights

Metabolomics Panels for COVID-19 Applications

Amino Acids Targeted Panel

Amino acids (AA) are the foundational building blocks for peptides and proteins. These small molecules regulate metabolic pathways that are involved in cell maintenance, growth, reproduction, and immunity. Branched chain amino acids play a large role in building muscle tissue and participate in increasing protein synthesis. Amino acids also play a role in cell signaling, gene expression and protein phosphorylation. Maintaining an optimal balance of amino acids is vital to maintaining a stable equilibrium of physiological processes.
Amino Acids Targeted Panel
Bile Acids Targeted Panel

Bile Acids Targeted Panel

Bile acids are derived from cholesterol and serve an important role in emulsifying and digesting lipids. In addition, their metabolism is intimately involved with the microbiota, and they have been shown to exhibit endocrine and metabolic activity via receptors like FXR and TGR5. The Bile Acids Targeted Panel measures all the major human and rodent primary and secondary bile acids as well as their glycine and taurine conjugates.

Central Carbons Targeted Panel

Central carbon metabolism involves the enzymatic conversion of sugars into metabolic precursors that are used to generate the entire biomass of the cell. The metabolites in this panel include key citric acid cycle compounds that connect carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. In addition to supplying key metabolic precursors, central carbon metabolism is used to oxidize simple sugar molecules obtained from food to supply energy to living systems. Measurement of central carbon metabolites has great industrial relevance since it may allow the engineering of selected metabolic steps to optimize carbon flow toward precursors for industrially important metabolites.
Central Carbons Targeted Panel
Free Fatty Acids Targeted Panel

Free Fatty Acids Targeted Panel

Fatty acids play many physiologically important roles in an organism. They are not only key metabolites of energy storage and production but also the basic building blocks of complex lipids that form cellular membranes. A variety of bioactive forms of fatty acid metabolites, known as lipid mediators, act as local hormones and are involved in many physiological systems and pathological processes. Free fatty acids (FFA, non-esterified fatty acids, NEFA) are the nonbound fraction of the total fatty acid pool. The determination of FFAs in plasma (or serum) is of clinical relevance as the association between FFAs and many diseases is well-known (eg, insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease).

Salivary Glucose Single Analyte Assay

Daily monitoring of glucose levels is an essential part of managing diabetes. However, blood glucose testing usually involves finger pricks, an invasive procedure that is troublesome to some patients. Therefore, increasing efforts have been made to develop a non-invasive method by self-testing salivary glucose levels, which are two orders of magnitude lower than those in blood.
Salivary Glucose Single Analyte Assay
Indoles Uremic Toxicity Targeted Panel

Indoles/Uremic Toxicity Targeted Panel

Uremic toxicity is the buildup of toxic analytes that are not able to be adequately filtered by the kidneys due to kidney injury or disease. Indole metabolites of tryptophan, the tyrosine metabolite p-cresol sulfate and 4-ethylphenyl sulfate are a key group of gut microbiota-derived uremic compounds. Their formation is the result of a complex interaction between diet, gut microbiota and host. Increased production of these compounds by the gut microbiota and reduced clearance in kidney disease can lead to toxicity affecting nearly all systems in the body.

Metal Analysis Targeted Panel

Metabolon’s ICP-MS-based Metal Analysis Targeted Panel provides precise measurements of biologically important metal ions in biological samples. In addition to the well-established problems of toxicity associated with several metals, the vital role these ions play in a variety of biological pathways whether by catalyzing enzymatic reactions or stabilizing protein structures is still becoming clear. Intimately intertwined with the proteome and metabolome, metal ions represent an intrinsic piece vital to the holistic understanding of biological phenomena ranging from development through normal functioning to disease. Without an understanding of the role of these metals, a complete understanding of biological processes is not possible. The Metal Analysis Targeted Panel measures a variety of metals ions ranging from the macro level (ppm) including Na, K, and Ca to the micro level (ppb) including Mo, Cu, and Ni.
Metal Analysis Targeted Panel
Short Chain Fatty Acids Targeted Panel

Short Chain Fatty Acids Targeted Panel

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced in the colon by the gut microbiota. They are the end products of anaerobic fermentation of dietary fibers and protein/peptides in the small intestine. Their formation is the result of a complex interaction between diet, gut microbiota, and host. SCFAs influence the physiology of the colon serving as energy sources by host cells and the intestinal microbiota as well as participating in different host signaling mechanisms.

Tryptophan/Kynurenine Ratio Targeted Panel

The kynurenine pathway is a metabolic pathway leading to the production of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) from the enzymatic conversion of tryptophan. Immune activation leads to the formation of kynurenine with corresponding loss of tryptophan.

The kynurenine/tryptophan ratio has been used to reflect the activity of the tryptophan-degrading enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) in cellular inflammatory response related to symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, and other neurological disease.

Tryptophan Kynurenine Ratio Targeted Panel

Metabolon in Action

Sexual Dimorphism in COVID-19

The Global Discovery Panel assisted in the analysis of serum samples, showcasing hundreds of biochemicals affected by COVID-19 infection in biological males and females. 182 metabolites varied significantly between sexes, suggesting sex-specific metabolic differences in response to Covid-19 infection.

Read the Case Study

Circulating Lipids as COVID-19 Inflammatory Markers

The study’s findings demonstrate the potential of serum lipidomics to characterize the previously underappreciated role that lipids play in injury-induced acute critical illness. The results of the Metabolon Complex Lipids Panel revealed mechanisms contributing to worsened outcomes for patients hospitalized for acute critical illness.

Read the Case Study

Interested in Further Studies?

Why Metabolon?

Once you see the full value of metabolomics, the only remaining question is who does it best? While many laboratories have metabolite profiling or analytical chemistry capabilities, comprehensive metabolomics technologies are extremely rare. Accurate, unbiased metabolite identification across the entire metabolome introduces signal-to-noise challenges that very few labs are equipped to handle. Also, translating massive quantities of data into actionable information is slow, if not impossible, for most because proper interpretation takes two things that are in short supply: experience and a comprehensive database.

Only Metabolon has all four core metabolomics capabilities



Ability to interrogate thousands of metabolites across diverse biochemical space, revealing new insights and opportunities



Ability to integrate the data from different studies into the same dataset, in different geographies, among different patients over time



Ability to inform on proper study design, generate high‐quality data, derive biological insights, and make actionable recommendations



Ability to process hundreds of thousands of samples quickly and cost‐efficiently to service rapidly growing demand

Partner with Metabolon to access:


A library of 5,400+ known metabolites, 2,000 in human plasma, all referenced in the context of biochemical pathways

  • That’s 5x the metabolites of the closest competitor

Unparalleled depth and breadth of experience analyzing and interpreting metabolomic data to find meaningful results

  • 10,000+ projects with hundreds of clients
  • 2,000+ publications covering 500 diseases, including numerous peer-reviewed journals such as Cell, Nature and Science
  • Nearly 40 PhDs in data science, molecular biology, and biochemistry

Using our robust platform and visualization tools, our experts are uniquely able to tell you more about your molecule and develop assay panels to help you zero in on the results you need.

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Request a quote for our services, get more information on sample types and handling procedures, request a letter of support, or submit a question about how metabolomics can advance your research.

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