Thursday, April 1, 2010

The World of Nutritional Omics

Proteomics and Metabolomics are still lagging behind Genomics, promising to catch up in 5 or 10 years.

Nutriproteomics and Nutrimetabolomics (aka Nutritional Proteomics and Nutritional Metabolomics) may be following the same trend. According to Medline these terms are temporarily forgotten and not yet ready for the prime time.

Nutrigenomics (Nutritional Genomics) is the discipline studying the effects of food on gene expression, thought to bring technologies on tailoring diets to genetic makeups. Many researchers believe that it will also lead to creating foods (so called 'functional foods') that will prevent an individual's genes from expressing disease.

The 2006 report by GeneWatch called nutrigenomics a spin-off from the Human Genome Project created to sell the idea of 'wellness', not for improving health. This report claims that 'Personalized nutrition' is a false solution to the problem of diet-related disease. Most genetic association studies later turn out to be wrong. Genes could contribute to a person's health risks, but the number of other different factors might be overwhelming. According to this report, future health is likely to be much harder to predict than the weather is and basing diets on misleading health predictions could do more harm than good.

With the exception of the major food intolerances (for example, to milk, peanuts, fava beans and alcohol) the body's ability to respond to different diets is complex and likely to be extremely hard to predict from a person's genetic make-up. Aurametrix agrees on this with GeneWatch, but why are the weathermen still employed?.. Aurametrix bases its predictions on the body response to food intake - not only the kind that can be measured by omics technologies, but is acknowledging the importance of genome, proteome and metabolome-based diagnostics.

Like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but unlike genetic make-up, measurements of gene expression or a person's proteome and metabolome change with time. Researchers are busily tackling transcriptome responses to foods - Dutch ServiceXS, for example, uses microarrays designed by the European Nutrigenomics Organization (NuGo) and manufactured by Affymetrix to study nutrition and genomics.
Nutrition research, on the other hand, is mostly about the isolation and analysis of bioactive components (or nutraceuticals) in foods. At first, it was focused on low molecular weight compounds and single proteins. The rapid growth of molecular biology shifted the focus to DNA, but the great expectations of solving all health-related issues by cracking the genome remained unanswered.

Genes expression does depend on diets, but mRNAs need to be translated into proteins - their sole presence does not guarantee that proteins will be present and working. Genomics fan club defines nutrigenomics as inclusive of all omics disciplines - gene, protein and metabolic profiling, but these are disciplines of their own.
Nutriproteomics studies how diets change expression, modification, distribution and interactions of proteins in the human body. It identifies the protein targets of foods and allows to more accurately than genomics address individual differences in terms of response to diet and food preference. It also helps to assess quality and authenticity of food and is useful for food allergy prevention.
Nutriproteomics addresses not only the qualitative analysis of proteomics interesting to the nutrition scientist, but also protein structures and interactions with other molecules, proteomes specific to body fluids and their localization in tissues.

In our previous blogs, we talked about metabolomics, genomics and molecular dietetics. Nutrimetabolomics focuses on the metabolomic aspect of nutritional phenotype, exploring the human response to different nutritional situations. It is estimated that there are 6,500 individual metabolites produced in the human body. Subtle disruptions in metabolic processes are evident in easily accessed body fluids and vapors. Nutrimetabolomics is nothing short of biochemical oracle for nutrition promising to accelerate the discovery of new markers and diet-related pathways. Quantitative measures of small molecules or metabolites can tell about deficiencies of digestive enzymes, microbiome health, best nutrition methods to improve individual health. Individual metabolic phenotypes do exist and can be defined from multiple measurements after eliminating the daily "noise".

The “Nutritional Phenotype database” (dbNP) was proposed to integrate and interrogate genetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, biomarkers, metabolomics, functional assays, food intake and food composition data, tailored to nutrition research and embedded in an environment of standard procedures and protocols, curated by the Nutrigenomics Organisation (NuGo). dbNP is extensively described in a publication in Genes & Nutrition 2010. It's based on micronutrient data sheets, comprehensive pathways (see examples for folate and selenium in the micronutrient portal ), ontologies and other knowledge engineering and analytic technologies.

Other Links
Aurametrix goal is to provide powerful solutions at your fingertips to help you manage your health. The company is initially focusing on relief for those suffering from digestive problems.
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