The NIH Common Fund’s Metabolomics program aims to increase national capacity in metabolomics by supporting the development of next generation technologies to enhance the sensitivity and speed with which specific elements of the cellular metabolome can be identified and quantified, providing training and mentoring opportunities, increasing the inventory of chemically identifiable metabolites through the synthesis and availability of high quality reference standards, and by promoting data sharing and collaboration. Learn more here
Taming the Torrent of Metabolic Data
Metabolomics Program grantee, Dr. Oliver Fiehn at the NIH West Coast Metabolomics Center at UC Davis, and his colleagues in Japan, have developed open source software called MS-DIAL to help researchers analyze their untargeted metabolomics data. Read a brief description of the research.
Study Finds Potential New Drug Target for Lung Cancer
Scientists have long known that the metabolism of tumor cells differs from normal, healthy cells. However, it has been challenging to study tumor metabolism in living tumor cells from a large number of cancer patients. Researchers at the Common Fund-supported Resource Center for Stable Isotope-Resolved Metabolomics (RC-SIRM) looked at how the molecule glucose is broken down as part of the metabolism of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. They found that the enzyme pyruvate carboxylase is critical for proliferation of this cancer type and may be potential target for future cancer drugs.
Using Metabolomics to Study Cancer Cell Metabolism
Cancer cells have distinctive changes in their metabolism that can be exploited for cancer diagnosis and treatment. One metabolic change that occurs is in the way a cancer cell uses the biological molecule glutamine. This chemical is both broken down for energy and used as a starting point in the synthesis of other biological compounds such as nucleotides and amino acids. Drugs that inhibit glutamine processing by targeting the enzyme glutaminase, which converts glutamine into glutamate, may be promising for cancer therapy. However, these therapies would be most useful if we could easily identify the patients who are mostly likely to benefit from them. Towards this end, a recent study from the West Coast Metabolomics Center examined the glutamate to glutamine ratio (GGR) in breast tissue from 270 breast cancer patients compared to 97 normal controls. They found that this ratio was significantly higher in cancer tissue. Tumor characteristics such as estrogen receptor (ER) status and tumor grade correlated with GGR, such that ER negative breast tumors and higher grade tumors had more elevated GGR levels. The finding that GGR levels are elevated in many breast tumors suggest that this measurement might predict which tumors would be candidates for treatment with newly developed glutaminase inhibitors.
Read the article abstract here.
Battling Bad Biofilms
Research from Metabolomics Program Mentored Research Scientist Dr. Mary Cloud Ammons provides insight into the unique metabolism of bacteria that colonize chronic wounds.
Read the abstract of Dr. Ammons' article abstract here.
Learn more about Metabolomics Initiatives
The NIH Common Fund is taking a comprehensive approach to increasing the research capacity in metabolomics by funding a variety of initiatives in this area, including training, technology development, standards synthesis, and data sharing capability for this new field.
View the Metabolomics Press Release.
Learn more about the Metabolomics Community
- Join the NIH Metabolomics Scientific Interest Group here.
- For Metabolomics data and resources, visit the UCSD Metabolomics Workbench.