Friday 19 March 2010

Advancement in the field of metabolomics

Thermo Fisher Scientific is providing the Scottish Metabolomics Facility (ScotMet) with cutting-edge technology to advance the field of metabolomics. ScotMet is funded by the Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance (SULSA) and is a state-of-the-art facility run jointly by the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. The facility combines mass spectrometry, separations technology and bioinformatics. ScotMet, which already used Thermo Fisher instruments, will now install four Thermo Scientific mass spectrometers, including an LTQ Orbitrap™ Velos with ETD and FAIMS source, a DSQ-II GC/MS and two Exactive™ LC/MS benchtop instruments.

So what is metabolomics?
According to WIKI, Metabolomics is the "systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind" - specifically, the study of their small-molecule metabolite profiles.[1] The metabolome represents the collection of all metabolites in a biological cell, tissue, organ or organism, which are the end products of cellular processes[2]. Thus, while mRNA gene expression data and proteomic analyses do not tell the whole story of what might be happening in a cell, metabolic profiling can give an instantaneous snapshot of the physiology of that cell. One of the challenges of systems biology and functional genomics is to integrate proteomic, transcriptomic, and metabolomic information to give a more complete picture of living organisms.

The superior mass accuracy and sensitivity of the LTQ Orbitrap Velos, equipped with the multiple fragmentation modes available (CID, HCD, ETD and PQD), will allow researchers to rapidly accelerate their research. In addition, for high throughput metabolite screening experiments, the fast polarity switching of the Exactive allows effective data collection in positive and negative modes.

ScotMet is run by Dr Karl Burgess at the University of Glasgow. According to Dr Burgess, "Metabolomics allows us to understand relationships between the small molecules that drive biological systems, giving us insights into cancer and other serious illnesses. ScotMet had already implemented a Thermo Scientific LTQ Orbitrap and following the success of this instrument, we looked to Thermo Fisher Scientific to provide additional instrumentation.”

Dr. Dave Watson at the University of Strathclyde stated: “We’ve had excellent results over the past three years of undertaking metabolomics experiments with the Thermo Scientific LTQ Orbitrap, and the addition of the LTQ OT Velos, Exactives and GC/MS capability will expedite existing projects and extend the range of important biological and medical problems with which we can work.”

The executive director of SULSA, Dr. Jennifer Bell, explained, “Metabolomics is important to systems biology and systems medicine. ScotMet aims to provide a world-class facility staffed by experts in metabolomics who work closely with leaders in the fields of genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics to offer training, sample analysis and collaboration on experimental design and data handling. This advances the growing field of metabolomics and to support systems initiatives across Scotland.”

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