An interactive introduction to metabolomics

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What is metabolomics and how is it being used to predict and manage disease? That’s the subject of Genome Medicine‘s and BioMed Central’s first interactive graphic.

This graphic is part of a series in Genome Medicine dedicated to the advances and state-of-the-art approaches in the use of metabolomics to understand, prevent and treat disease.

Screenshot of interactive graphic Metabolomics
is the measurement of all the metabolites (small molecules produced by physiological processes, such as respiration and digestion) within a cell, tissue, organ or body. The metabolome alters in response to the environment, disease, nutrition and other factors, providing a dynamic picture of living organisms.

The omic approaches of genomics, proteomics and transcriptomics are widely used in academia and industry but until recently one piece of the puzzle was missing (or at least wasn’t widely used). As Tim Veenstra, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute in the United States and Special Issue Editor for Genome Medicine, writes in a forward-looking and optimistic Editorial, metabolomics is now ready to take its place as the final omics technology, completing the puzzle.

This is an exciting time for metabolomics research because not only is the technology ready – mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance  together provide a highly sensitive,quantitative and relatively cheap approach – but the need for such information is apparent too. Whether metabolomic information is used to improve genome wide association studies or improve screening and diagnosis of breast cancer, researchers and clinicians from all fields are now rushing to combine metabolomics with their existing studies. 

A combination of genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics will truly usher in the era of genomic medicine.