Creating Metabolomics Databases
In other recent developments in the metabolomics arena, David S. Wishart, Ph.D., professor in the departments of computing science and biological sciences at University of Alberta, and collaborators have established a fully searchable human metabolome database that currently contains over 6,800 metabolites, ranging from the more abundant (>1 µM) to the more rare ones (<1 nM).
This represents the largest and most comprehensive organism-specific metabolomics database assembled to date and contains chemical, clinical, and molecular information about human metabolites and metabolic enzymes collected from urine, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid samples, according to Dr. Wishart. “The ultimate goal is to identify and quantify as many of the metabolites as we could find,” he adds.
Investigators in Dr. Wishart’s group previously characterized the cerebrospinal fluid metabolome and are currently focusing on establishing a database of metabolites exclusively found in the human serum. The comprehensive inventory of these body fluids provides a valuable resource for investigators from various fields such as biology, medicine, and environmental and plant sciences, who will be able to use the composition lists during their own work.
MetaboAnalyst, a web-based tool developed in Dr. Wishart’s lab, offers several options for data processing and statistical analyses during high-throughput metabolomic studies. “We want to be able to identify the metabolites that we are seeing and to give absolute concentrations. This represents a central challenge and also the key to making metabolomics a true omics science,” explains Dr. Wishart.