September 1, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 15)
Strong Points: Interesting effort
Weak Points: Nothing significant
Are you ready for another omics discipline—metabolomics? This segment has been around for a while, but the site is the first useful one I’ve seen on the subject. Hosted in Canada, the Metabolomics Toolbox focuses on rapid, high-throughput characterization of small organismal metabolites. As noted at the site, the metabolome fits somewhere apart from genomes and proteomes, as metabolites are partly a function of the state of the organism, like what it eats or its environment. This in itself poses an immense challenge, due to the rapid changes possible in cells in contrast to the unchanging genome and relatively slowly changing proteome. The aim is to isolate, identify, catalog, quantitate, and even store all metabolites that can be found in human tissues and fluids at concentrations greater than 1 µM. As of the end of 2006, 1,300 compounds were in storage. At the site, one can access the metabolite database and read more about this interesting project.