Chapter 10—The End of the Guide… the Beginning of Your Metabolomics Studies
Throughout this guide, you’ve learned everything you need to know to start performing your own metabolomics studies: from the basics about metabolites and why studying them is important to how metabolomics analyses can support basic science research, clinical practice, and even everyday products such as food, supplements, and cosmetics, and, of course, important considerations for designing your own metabolomics study. We encourage you to refer back to previous chapters of this guide at any time—treat it like your basic metabolomics handbook. Here’s a quick review of the main points of discussion in each chapter that you can use to help you find what you need quickly:
In Chapter 1, we explored the relationship between genes, environment, and functional capacity, defined metabolites and the metabolome, and provided a basic introduction to the importance of including metabolomic information in scientific studies.
In Chapter 2, we defined and provided basic introductions to the other core omics approaches: genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics. Additionally, using examples from the primary literature, we demonstrated how metabolomics can add additional layers of information to each of these other omics techniques, and why metabolomics is a key enabling technology for multi-omics studies.
In Chapter 3, we more deeply explored the types of metabolites (endogenous and exogenous) that can be identified and the sample types from which they can be identified. We provided examples of the metabolic reactions that can be identified via metabolomics studies and introduced the two main approaches for measuring metabolites: nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometry (MS). Finally, we introduced global and targeted approaches and the circumstances under which one or the other might be used.
In Chapter 4, we expanded upon the ideas introduced in earlier chapters of this guide. Beginning with a discussion of the many benefits associated with metabolomics studies, this chapter then focused on some of the academic, clinical, and commercial applications of metabolomics analyses, including unraveling how the microbiome impacts human health, improving clinical trial design, and facilitating toxicity studies of supplements and cosmetics.
In Chapter 5, we built upon the ideas introduced in Chapter 4, deeply exploring the many clinical applications of metabolomics. From decades-old tests such as the heel-prick test on babies to the present and future of precision medicine, we provided several examples of metabolomics’ place in the clinic. This chapter also highlights the work done by one of our customers, who used Metabolon’s services to redesign their clinical trial and move their microbiome-based therapeutic successfully through phase III clinical trials.
Chapter 6 expanded ideas introduced in Chapter 4 through an in-depth discussion of metabolomics applications in the academic laboratory. We introduced some of the databases available to academic researchers for exploring metabolites from humans and the human microbiome before presenting several examples from the primary literature demonstrating how academic metabolomics research is laying the foundation for biomarker discovery, drug discovery, and leveraging the human microbiome clinically. We also showed how the explosion of metabolomics research in academic laboratories is leading to the development of novel animal models for studying human diseases as well as sophisticated tools for effectively analyzing and visualizing metabolomics and multi-omics datasets.
Chapter 7 is the final of three chapters expanding on Chapter 4, providing a detailed introduction to several commercial applications benefitting from metabolomics analyses: drug development, food and drink safety and manufacturing, vitamin and supplement development and manufacturing, and cosmetics development. Through several examples from the primary literature, we demonstrate how metabolomics plays and will continue to play a critical role in each of these industry areas as they grow and evolve.
In this chapter, we discuss how metabolomics supports not just the research and development aspects of drugs, foods and beverages, supplements, and cosmetics, but how it also enables manufacturers to meet and uphold regulatory standards. From ensuring that foods, supplements, and cosmetics are properly labelled to profiling drug toxicity, metabolomics plays an essential role in our ability to consume and use everyday products without worry. This chapter also introduces the various global organizations working toward establishing standards for using metabolomics in regulatory toxicity, safety, and dangerous substance monitoring, and other applications.
In this chapter, we explain why achieving a controlled and insightful research outcome is highly dependent on the quality of your study preparation. We then lay out the most important questions to answer prior to embarking on any metabolomics study so you can make sure you’re able to execute a successful metabolomics study with your specific budget: what is your study goal?; which technology is best for your study?; should you do it yourself or outsource?; considerations for sample collection, preparation, storage, and shipping; and data analysis and interpretation. We also explain how Metabolon can support you at each and every one of these steps to help you get the most out of your metabolomics studies.
We hope this guide has fully equipped you to get started on your own metabolomics journey with confidence. We’re here to support your projects in any way you need—from experimental design to data interpretation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today to learn more about how we can work with you to gain as much scientific insight as possible from your metabolomics research.
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