Metabolomic biomarker research is a young research area that carries great hopes for both medicine and the nutritional sciences, particularly for the early detection of genetically determined diseases. Today, the first Round Table Meeting on Metabolomics & Diabetes will take place in Vienna, bringing together high-level international experts to discuss the state of science and the future of metabolomics in diabetology and the nutritional sciences. The Austrian biotech company BIOCRATES Life Sciences AG provides cutting-edge support to these new research areas by contributing valuable research results, making available state-of-the-art research products, and setting milestones in the early detection of diabetes and in the field of personalized medicine.
Metabolomics─a young research field
The metabolome is the entirety of metabolites of an organism. This full set of metabolites is a mirror of the metabolic state of a cell or tissue. Metabolomics allows the medical profile of an individual to be determined, thereby predicting disease risk or how the organism will react to a particular drug. “Research into the metabolome can provide important insights into diseases such as cancer, nervous system disorders, asthma, or diabetes,” says Professor Jerzy Adamski, Helmholtz Center Munich. “Metabolomics enables the risks of certain diseases to be predicted and new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to be developed. By analyzing the interactions between the genome (i.e., the entirety of the hereditary information of an organism), the metabolome, and environmental conditions, preventive health measures can be devised.”
Metabolomics and diabetes
Diabetes mellitus type 2 is a metabolic disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels. Previously also referred to as ‘non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus’ or ‘adult-onset diabetes,’ diabetes mellitus type 2 increasingly affects younger individuals and even teenagers. “Diabetes is among the most important challenges to the health care systems of Western societies,” explains Professor Michael Kunze, Head of the Institute for Social Medicine and Chairman of the international Round Table Meeting on Metabolomics. “Scientific progress in this field will not only help alleviate personal suffering, it will also make important contributions to stabilizing Western health care budgets.”
Inadequate metabolic control and treatment can lead to myocardial infarction and stroke. Next to genetic predisposition, the most important risk factors for diabetes are obesity (especially increased waist circumference), increased blood pressure (hypertension), and elevated blood lipids (cholesterol). The combination of these risk factors is referred to as metabolic syndrome. Although still a very young research field, metabolomics has already made important contributions to the prediction of diabetes risk well before the disorder has become manifest. Professor Michael Roden, German Diabetes Center Düsseldorf says: “It is high time that novel research avenues such as metabolomics be pursued and refined. The development of new biomarkers for the early detection of diseases should be given utmost priority.”
What role for metabolomics in personalized medicine?
For many medicinal products, the one-size-fits-all concept does not apply, i.e., different individuals may react differently to a particular drug. Every cell in the human organism is controlled by an individual genetic code that tells the body which proteins, e.g., enzymes, to produce. These enzymes support drugs in exerting their effect and determine how the body reacts to certain drugs. Future drugs could contain intelligent mechanisms modifying specific disease targets through specific mechanisms of action. Ultimately, this would reduce the risk of adverse effects and increase the tolerability of drugs. In personalized medicine, metabolomics is likely to improve the diagnosis of diseases and provide prognostic information. In this way, diseases can be detected and diagnosed well before the patient develops any symptoms, marking a further milestone in preventive medicine.
Metabolomics and nutritional research
According to Professor Hannelore Daniel, Technical University of Munich, “nutrition plays a prominent role in almost all lifestyle-related disorders, including diabetes mellitus type 2, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Metabolomic blood analyses, e.g., after food intake, help determine differences in how individuals utilize nutrients in food.” Overall, metabolomics holds great promise in terms of improving the early detection of diet-related disease risks.
Technologies and tools for biomarker research
Molecular diagnostics and the technologies it makes use of, such as genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics, will provide even more detailed insights into the different forms and manifestations of diseases and the therapeutic options available for individual patients. Elgar Schnegg, CEO of BIOCRATES Life Sciences AG, says: “We are proud to be able to offer state-of-the-art products supporting research into this highly topical and relevant field, among them the MetaDisIDQTM Kit designed for use in diabetes research. Moreover, we have an interesting pipeline of products for clinical diagnosis.”