Study Design

Chapter 6 — Metabolomics Study Analysis, Interpretation, and Insights

In the previous chapter of this guide, we went over the specifics of collecting your samples, storing them prior to transport, and creating a shipping protocol to preserve their integrity throughout the journey. Having taken steps to ensure your samples arrive safely at Metabolon, you can have confidence they will generate the highest quality metabolomic outputs. Next comes the exciting moment when your data is returned! As you dive into the numbers, Metabolon scientists will help you turn your results into a story. In this chapter, we will go over the deliverables of your study analysis, interpretation, and insights.

Receiving Your Metabolomics Data

Your study will reference our in-house database of over 5,400 biologically relevant small molecules, enabling you to detect hundreds or even thousands of metabolites from your samples, depending on which assay(s) you choose to perform. Every single Metabolon customer receives their data presented in a Client Data Table (CDT). When you access the CDT, you won’t just see a table with endless columns and values—you’ll see data you can understand, interpret, and use to further your research objectives.

Formerly a single deliverable, the CDT is now delivered as three files. This revamped format is more amenable to import into downstream processing tools, such as R or Python. The Heat Map is split off from the CDT into a separate Excel file. Finally, the Plots are placed in a PDF. Descriptions of each of the three files are below.

Client Data Table. This tabbed Excel file contains a fully annotated list of all the identified metabolites, normalized values, a glossary of terms, and the study MetaData. The consistent data organization and unique biochemical identifiers make it easy to run the same R or Python scripts from project to project

Heat Map. You’ll also have access to a browsable heat map which enables you to quickly identify patterns, as chemicals are grouped by pathway

Plots. Quickly access box plots for each metabolite identified in your sample. The images in the PDF are high-quality and publication-ready.

More information on these deliverables is available on our Working With Us page.

Metabolomics Study Comparison

Data visualization is tiered depending upon each client’s needs. While every tier includes the CDT, certain assays are paired with various analysis and interpretation reporting tools, such as the MyMetabolon Portal and the Lipid Surveyor.

Clients who choose Global Discovery Panels may opt in to the MyMetabolon client portal, which provides on-demand access to data through an always-on digital portal. There, you can access custom reports created by Metabolon scientists. These charts, visualizations, and stats tables will be focused on insights most relevant to your study. Through the MyMetabolon interface, you will be able to interrogate, analyze, and create sophisticated displays with your data. Because the pathway visualizations are interactive, you can easily edit the details of layout and color.

The Complex Lipid Targeted Panel includes access to Lipid Surveyor™, a biomarker discovery and pathway mapping tool for interpreting lipidomic study results. Once you identify analytes of interest, you can overlay the heat maps on biochemical pathway diagrams.

Note: The downloadable images from both MyMetabolon and Lipid Surveyor are hi-res and publication-ready.

Metabolomics Data Interpretation Support: Determining Insights

Metabolon interpretation services are provided by our experienced team of more than 45 PhD-level study directors, leveraging our proprietary biochemical pathway knowledgebase and powerful bioinformatics capabilities. Our experienced biostatistical team provides statistical analysis of your data with univariate significance tests (t-tests, ANOVA, repeated measures analysis). This team is with you every step of the way, helping you to put your data into perspective and identify actionable insights. We work with you to dive deeply into your data, and collaborations between our customers and Metabolon scientists have led to the publication of over 3,000 citations.

Metabolomics Study Success

As your study concludes, your study director will provide post-project support and live consultation to help answer outstanding questions and inform the next steps in your research.

Options to explore may include study continuation, phase progression, or preparation for a new, related study. Once you have your completed study (or studies) in hand, we encourage you to collaborate with us to showcase your insights.

The Resources section of our website offers a variety of client success stories resulting from studies focused on biomarker discovery, diagnostics, drug development, and more. One of our collaborators, Seres Therapeutics, leveraged Metabolon’s Global Discovery Panel after an unsatisfying Phase II clinical trial study result. The insights they gathered led to both an improved dosing strategy and effective biomarkers. Using Metabolon’s Good Clinical Practice (GCP)-validated Bile Acids Targeted Panel they demonstrated their therapeutic’s mechanism of action and dose-response during a successful Phase III trial. That therapeutic is now the first microbiome-based therapeutic to receive FDA approval.

What’s Next?

After going through this guide, you’re ready to start designing and executing your own metabolomics study. You also know exactly what to expect from Metabolon throughout the process. Contact us today to get started!

metabolomics study design success guide

Continue to Chapter 7 - The End of This Guide, The Beginning of Your Own Metabolomics Studies

You are now equipped to build a metabolomics experimental workflow; we encourage you to refer to the previous chapters of this guide at any time and contact us for further information. Here’s a quick review of the main points of discussion in each chapter that you can use to find what you need quickly.

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