A multi-focal view of metabolic disease
Diabetes, a serious metabolic condition that results from the inability to regulate blood sugar levels, is a worldwide epidemic. According to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, more than 30 million Americans and 422 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with diabetes. Yet much remains unknown about how diabetes develops, why certain individuals are at increased risk, and whether the metabolic dysregulation can be corrected rather than merely managed.
Metabolomics enables simultaneous assessment of hundreds of compounds present in living systems, making it a critical tool that advances our understanding of disease mechanism and opens doors to identify novel targets and treatments for conditions like diabetes.
Measuring changes in metabolites – small molecules present in the blood – using metabolomics can provide clues into how the disease develops while revealing potential new treatment avenues.
Metabolon has revealed insights about the mechanisms contributing to the development of Type 2 diabetes (T2D). Most recently, our technology contributed to the identification of a key gut microbiome-derived compound linked to insulin resistance. The study by Koh et al. helps us better understand how the gut microbiome affects the host’s physiology and provides the basis for a novel treatment strategy. Unraveling disease mechanisms is also vital to understanding related conditions like prediabetes and gestational diabetes. Since both may signal a predisposition to developing a form of T2D, diabetes researchers will find value in the capability of Metabolon’s metabolomics and lipidomics services for discovering predictive biomarkers. With these tools, Metabolon is uniquely positioned to capture diabetes phenotypes through the broadest lens possible.
Metabolomics has helped elucidate the mode of action of metformin, the front-line drug for T2D. We know that metformin reduces insulin resistance and improves the uptake of glucose in muscle. You might be surprised to learn that it also reduces the risk of cancer and lowers the values of LDL cholesterol.1 However, the mode of action of metformin on its many target organs is still not completely understood. Recently, metabolomics helped to show that the drug relaxes smooth muscle, thereby aiding T2D patients who also have cardiovascular disease. Better understanding of how metformin works could improve treatments for diabetic patients and identify additional therapeutic uses. More broadly, this research demonstrates the power of metabolomics in understanding therapeutic mode of action in diabetes and its comorbidities.
Metabolomics can provide a snapshot of the metabolic state of the entire organism as well as individual tissues, revealing how metabolic disease can drive inflammatory disorders and other comorbidities.
1. Adam J et al., Metformin Effect on Nontargeted Metabolite Profiles in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and in Multiple Murine Tissues. Diabetes. 2016 Dec;65(12):3776-3785.