Metabolomics is the study of different chemical processes and their metabolites in a biological system. Metabolites are the intermediate by-product of biochemical interactions (i.e. the four major bio-molecules). These metabolites give off a unique chemical signal that can be used in the bigger picture to see what is going on within that cell.
History of Metabolomics Edit
Metabolomics is a fairly new field of study. Many scientists argue that this field of study has been around for a long period of time ever since they could detect metabolites via chromatographic separation (1960's). Recently in 2007 the first draft of the Human Metabolome Project was completed. There are other on-going projects that are trying to complete the metabolome of Arabidopsis thaliana.
General Techniques Edit
- Chromatographic Separation
This is a specific laboratory technique that deals with the separation of mixtures. For example, in metabolomics chromatography is used to separate different biomolecules from one another. Another example that most scientists know very well is thin-layer chromatography (or TLC). TLC is used to determine what compounds are present in the sample and how pure that specific sample or compound is.
- Mass Spec
This is a detection technique that separates certain chemicals and functional groups based on the mass to charge ratio. That certain ratio is different for every single molecule that passes through that machine and it can tell the difference.
The field of metabolomics can be used in tandem with other research to provide scientists with a snapshot of what is occurring within the cell (Figure 1). For example when used with pharmacogenomics, scientists and doctors can understand how a patient is responding to a certain drug.
Using Metabolomics to Optimize Bioprocessing, Don Rose, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Sept.1, 2009.
"Metabolomics", Multiple Authors, Wikipedia page, retrieved 9/1/14.