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J Biomol Tech. 2010 September; 21(3 Suppl): S16.
PMCID: PMC2918066

Metabolomics Research Group (MRG)

C. Turck,1 N. Dodder,5 B. Kesler,6 and W. R. Wikoff7
1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany;
2University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States;
3Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States;
4University of California Davis Genome Center, Davis, CA, United States;
5National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, United States;
6Thermo Fisher Scientific, Redwood City, CA, United States;
7The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, United States



The ABRF Metabolomics Research Group (MRG) was formed in 2009 and aims to educate research scientists and resource facilities in the analytical approaches and management of data resulting from comprehensive metabolite studies and to promote the science and standardization of metabolomic analyses for a variety of applications. Metabolomics is the comprehensive profiling of metabolites and other small molecules. The large structural diversity of these compounds makes both comprehensive profiling and identification challenging. The major platforms are NMR and mass spectrometry, particularly LC/MS and GC/MS.

NMR has the advantage that it can work with essentially no sample processing of biological samples. Biofluids such as urine and serum and intact tissues can be profiled directly with high resolution. The signals from NMR are inherently quantitative, so peak intensity correlates directly with concentration. The non-destructive nature of NMR enables samples to be subsequently analyzed by other analytical platforms. One of the challenges with NMR is the relatively low sensitivity vis-à-vis MS. Unlike NMR, MS methods usually have a much lower limit of detection but compound dependent signal response. For metabolic profiling targeted methods for the analysis and quantitation of biologically and chemically related metabolites are used. These methods require sample preparation techniques specific for the class of metabolites to be interrogated. In addition, there are general non-targeted methods that attempt to analyze all detectable metabolites in a given biological sample. The elucidation of metabolite structures remains the biggest challenge in mass spectrometry based metabolomics. A number of ‘Metabolomics Core Facilities’ have been recently established at U.S. Universities, some of which as extensions of already existing ‘Proteomics Cores’. In the session MRG members will present the results of a survey on the current use of metabolomics technologies in core facilities. In addition, analytical procedures commonly used in metabolomics will be introduced.

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