Friday, August 28, 2009

Metabonomic Profiling as a Non-invasive Inexpensive Diagnostics Tool

Small molecules in our breath, saliva, sweat and other body fluids can tell a lot about our health and disease, state of mind, therapeutic outcomes, athletic and mental performance, tapping into both genetic and environmental factors influencing our lives.

Urinary metabonomic profiling, for example, predicts metabolism of drugs and xenobiotics, as was recently shown by Imperial College London and Pfizer teams. Relative concentrations of small molecules such as p-cresol sulfate could be used for prediction of drug treatment outcomes. Qulitative measurements of lipids, metabolites, proteins and complexes predict sensitivity to biologics such as anti-HER2 therapy. (see full article in pdf)

Many existing and emerging diagnostics tools used as the gold standard for diagnosis of cancers are expensive and invasive. Metabolic profiling would solve the cost issue and would not require penetration, catheterization, incision nor breaking the skin and into body cavities. Recent study demonstrates potential of metabonomics in diagnostics of bladder cancers. This is not surprising, as well-trained dogs can fairly accurately identify patients with bladder cancer based on urine odor.They do well identifying lung and breast cancers, ovarian carcinomas, endometrial cancer, renal cell carcinoma, epileptic and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures and many other conditions too, all based on unique signatures of metabolites in human odors.

Metabolic profiling of plasma showed potential for diagnostics of Parkinson's disease through its early symptomatic phase. As seen in the figure, concentration of many molecules was significantly different, but pyruvate was the key metabolite. Sarcosine, an N-methyl derivative of the amino acid glycine, was identified as a differential metabolite during prostate cancer progression to metastasis.

Metabolite profiling was shown to be a promising diagnostic technique for coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, pediatric clinical studies, eclampsia, lipid disorder , skin cancer, colon carcinoma, metastatic prostate cancer, epithelial ovarian cancer , liver cancer, lung cancer, hypertension , kidney deficiency syndrome, infertility treatment, and motor neuron disease. Devices checking for metabolites in the air can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, healthy and sick trees and people. Besides traditional mass spec and GC analyzers, many nanotechnology-based device prototypes are being built, such as gold nanoparticle based, colorimetric arrays, or xerogel sensor with CMOS detector. New findings are announced every month.

Metabolic profiling distinguish people with 99% accuracy, even healthy monozygotic twins have different profiles, demonstrating yet again that metabolites are products of gene-environment interaction, bearing more information about us than just genes.

Aurametrix is conducting research to develop next-generation mobile devices to help you evaluate your personal health risks and benefits. Better tools for a healthier world.

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