Innovation in metabolomics to improve personalized healthcare

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Stefano Cacciatore, Massimo Loda


Metabolomics is the systemic study of all small molecules (metabolites) and their concentration as affected by pathological and physiological alterations or environmental or other factors. Metabolic alterations represent a "window" on the complex interactions between genetic expression, enzyme activity, and metabolic reactions. Techniques, including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, Fourier-transform infrared, and Raman spectroscopy, have led to significant advances in metabolomics. The field is shifting from feasibility studies to biological and clinical applications. Fields of application range from cancer biology to stem cell research and assessment of xenobiotics and drugs in tissues and single cells. Cross-validation across high-throughput platforms has allowed findings from expression profiling to be confirmed with metabolomics. Specific genetic alterations appear to drive unique metabolic programs. These, in turn, can be used as biomarkers of genetic subtypes of prostate cancer or as discovery tools for therapeutic targeting of metabolic enzymes. Thus, metabolites in blood may serve as biomarkers of tumor state, including inferring driving oncogenes. Novel applications such as these suggest that...Continue Reading


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