Case Study

DNA Genotek and OMNImet®•GUT

Metabolon collaborates with DNA Genotek Inc.a leading provider of products for biological sample collection, stabilization & preparationto validate a metabolomic approach to support functional understanding of the gut microbiome.

Scott Rabuka
Senior Director, Molecular Products at DNA Genotek Inc.

“In addition to our industry-leading OMNIgene® collection devices for metagenomics, customers were asking for an ambient-temperature collection and storage solution for microbiome metabolomics samples. Working with Metabolon, the clear metabolomics market leader, the OMNImet®·GUT device provides scientists with an important new solution for metabolomics research and builds on our evolution towards a fully integrated multiomics company that creates and captures value from sample collection all the way to discovery.”

Scott Rabuka
Senior Director, Molecular Products at DNA Genotek Inc.

“In addition to our industry-leading OMNIgene® collection devices for metagenomics, customers were asking for an ambient-temperature collection and storage solution for microbiome metabolomics samples. Working with Metabolon, the clear metabolomics market leader, the OMNImet®·GUT device provides scientists with an important new solution for metabolomics research and builds on our evolution towards a fully integrated multiomics company that creates and captures value from sample collection all the way to discovery.”

DNA Genotek Inc., a subsidiary of OraSure Technologies, Inc., develops products for collection, stabilization and preparation of biological samples, including fecal DNA for quantitative profile analysis of the gut microbiome. The rich biological insights in the human gut microbiota can help scientists better understand factors that influence both sickness and health.  Recently, there has been a growing interest in investigating the signaling role of microbial-derived metabolites that serve as a “language” for communication between microbiota and the host, and between microbial populations. Despite its huge importance, this area of research has been plagued by technical and analytical challenges limiting researchers to fully explore the clues that reside among the intestinal microbiota.

Metabolon’s customers across biopharma, academia and population health had been asking for a validated, ambient-temperature collection device to study metabolites in human feces for years. Equally, DNA Genotek’s customers researching the microbiome had made similar requests.

Therefore, Metabolon, Inc. and DNA Genotek Inc., collaborated to develop a solution that would for the first-time enable microbiome researchers to offer donors an easy and convenient option for collecting fecal samples in the comfort and privacy of their home.  After years of collaboration on this project, OMNImet®·GUT, the first device for at-home collection and ambient-temperature transport of fecal samples for metabolomics was presented to the research market in June of 2020.

Through this collaboration, Metabolon provided all metabolomic testing and validation of the device, ensuring rapid time to market and reliable, high-quality study results. This collaboration between Metabolon and DNA Genotek brings together the complementary capabilities of each company to broaden the global adoption of metabolomics in the study of health, wellness and disease.

What Previous Market Challenges Does OMNImet®·GUT Address?

Although snap-freezing (i.e., use of dry ice or liquid nitrogen to freeze the sample) is the recognized standard stabilization process for fecal metabolomics analysis, this method limits cohort enrollment to participants able to bring collected samples to the lab/clinic within a very restricted timeframe (usually a few hours) or to those able to collect their sample directly on-site. This restricts the number of potential participants, especially when trying to collect from individuals who have specific health conditions or mobility impairments.

“The biggest challenge most researchers face when collecting fecal samples is the cold-chain requirement associated with the transport and storage of the samples,” says Rabuka. “They must get the samples from the donor to the lab while maintaining temperature-controlled shipping conditions. This forces researchers to request that donors collect their samples on-site in the lab or in a clinical setting. Yet a difficulty to maintain temperature stability means that the microbial analysis from these samples will include inherent biases, negatively affecting the accuracy of the metabolomic signature.”

Additionally, previous sample collection options did not enable adequate homogenization of fecal samples at the time of collection. This lead to inadequate stabilization action of the chemistry, leaving portions of  the samples prone to microbiome profile changes associated with post-collection microbial growth and/or decay during transport and storage.

“We also have to think about the individuals asked to provide the samples. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to collect these samples on demand. Most donors are incapable of producing a sample if asked to do so within a short amount of time. Fecal sample collection does not compare to any other human sample type such as blood, saliva, or urine. Because of this, allowing donors to collect samples from the convenience and privacy of their own homes is crucial for successful studies.”

Understanding the barriers this created for patient at-home collection, DNA Genotek collaborated with Metabolon for validation of the collection tubes and the stabilization chemistry necessary to protect the intricate nature of metabolites in feces to ensure sample integrity.

The OMNImet®·GUT device is an important device created to support microbiome research, as well as other areas of health, wellness and disease research that enables further exploration of the clues that live in the intestinal microbiota.

The proprietary stabilization chemistry in the OMNImet®·GUT device provides ambient-temperature stability that does not require immediate freezing and cumbersome and expensive cold-chain logistics. It is designed to maintain the integrity of the sample for metabolomics analysis for multiple days at ambient temperature. The increased flexibility, ease of use and lower shipping costs provided by the OMNImet®·GUT device can provide significant advantages for clinical trial recruitment and execution.

Beyond Service Provider to Solution Driver

The collaboration work with DNA Genotek to bring the OMNImet®·GUT device to market shows how Metabolon goes beyond its traditional role as a service provider to innovator addressing client needs. Metabolon’s ability to deliver unique solutions ultimately enables broader adoption of our industry-leading metabolomics technology across the life sciences.

Metabolon’s expertise continues to demonstrate that high-quality, consistently collected and adequately documented samples are a basic prerequisite without which no metabolomic analysis can reliably succeed. Metabolon has always taken special care to facilitate sample collection, handling, and shipping for clients. From detailed guidelines and real-time support by the Client Success team, to the Study Success Sample Handling Kit that takes the guesswork out of sample aliquoting and labeling. Metabolon’s competency makes collecting samples for metabolomics accessible to all researchers regardless of expertise.

What Happens After Samples are Collected?

Metabolon takes pride in both delivering the most comprehensive and highest quality metabolomic data in the industry and in helping clients make the most of that data through customized services such as statistical analysis, interpretation and interactive visualization tools.

The joint effort with DNA Genotek demonstrates how these unique capabilities enable Metabolon to engage with other organizations to collaborate on the development of cutting-edge products. The scientific collaboration occurred over the course of two years to accomplish a common goal.

Metabolon’s breadth of expertise in metabolomics enabled DNA Genotek to gather the right data and interpretation to get the product to market quickly, while Metabolon’s validation and endorsement facilitated a rapid uptake and acceptance of the new device by the scientific community.

Metabolon’s deep subject-matter knowledge offers a profound understanding of a partner’s needs and ultimately advance science together.

Ready to see what new insights metabolomics can help your research reveal? Contact us today to learn more.

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