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Global metabolomic initiative announced

Investigators at Washington University and The Scripps Research Institute have announced the launch of a "Global Metabolomic Initiative" to facilitate meta-analyses on studies of the metabolism of bacteria, yeast, plants, animals and people.

The announcement of the Global Metabolomic Initiative was sent to more than 1,600 registered XCMS Online users who have uploaded a total of more than 35,000 files of metabolomic data to a web-based processing platform called XCMS Online.

XCMS Online is a public resource developed by Gary Siuzdak and colleagues at The Scripps Research Institute. Siuzdak, PhD, director of the Scripps Center for Metabolomics, is a pioneer in the systematic study of metabolites (metabolomics).

The goal of metabolomics is to take a urine, blood or tissue sample, analyze it with an instrument called a mass spectrometer, and acquire a complete profile of all of the small molecules in the sample. The profile might reveal whether the sample donor is ill, at risk of developing a disease, has been exposed to a toxin, or is unable to tolerate a drug therapy.

Gary J. Patti, assistant professor of chemistry, genetics and medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, who is co-leading the XCMS Online meta-study, predicts that many groundbreaking discoveries will emerge from these analyses.

"A lot of people suddenly are excited about metabolism again," Patti says. "People are seeing that metabolism provides a downstream signature of disease states which is complementary to that provided by genes and proteins. As a result, there has been a huge resurgence of interest in this area."

Why is metabolomics interesting?

Patti has good reason for his optimism. Metabolomics has existed as a discipline for only about a decade. But there have already been many examples of "studies in which metabolomics has provided unparalleled insight into disease," Patti says.

He describes studies unde

Contact: Diana Lutz
Washington University in St. Louis

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