Arts & Sciences

Metabolomics for the masses

Gary Patti of Arts & Sciences is working to lower some of the barriers to entry for use of the powerful modern tools of metabolomics. (Photo: James Byard)

Lowering the ‘data burden’ to put better interpretation in reach

From the WashU Newsroom

Gary Patti, the Michael and Tana Powell Associate Professor of Chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has been awarded $4.8 million in two separate National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants focused on improving the accessibility of metabolomics — the study of the biochemical reactions that underlie metabolism.

Just as the genome is a complete set of the genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism, the metabolome represents a complete set of the metabolites — such as sugars, amino acids, fats and other more unfamiliar small molecules — in a cell or organism under a particular set of conditions.

Researchers such as Patti seek to create comprehensive metabolic profiles that can be compared between healthy and disease states.

“As it turns out, metabolic profiles are highly informative with respect to human health,” Patti said. Metabolites are already used in clinics around the world to diagnose many different diseases, such as cancer. But current tests used in hospitals look at a relatively small number of metabolites compared to the hundreds to thousands of signals observed in metabolomics. “There’s a big opportunity here not only to move to better diagnostics but also to better understand the fundamental biochemistry of disease,” he said.

  Read more at the Source.