Metabolomics: a brief introduction 1

Published on January 31, 2018   35 min

Other Talks in the Series: Bioinformatics for Metabolomics

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My name is Reza Salek. I'm from EBI, The European Bioinformatics Institute, which is part of the European Molecular Biology Lab. Part of the mission of EBI is collecting a lot of biological data resulting from experimental data and we provide services and make these data available. In this context, we have one of the services called metabolite, where we capture metabolomics experiments. For this talk, I'll give a brief overview of what is metabolomics. For those new to the field or interested in the field or want to know a bit more obviously, it's a very big and complicated field. There are a lot of aspects of it that I will not be able to cover, but I will be happy to answer any questions.
There are some definitions that we need to start with. There are many keywords that refer to the same concept. There is a concept called a metabolome. These are small molecules, usually about below 500 Daltons. Usually, they say the numbers vary as do the range concentrations; for a lot of elements it depends on the species, the type of cell, the environment and these are in a generic term called the metabolome. The science of studying of these small molecules and metabolites is known as metabolomics. There are other names that refer to the same notion as metabonomics, but these keys have changed over time. The key term metabolomics has been consistently used according to the Google trend, but the term metabonomics was used a lot- more or less about the same concept- and as a slightly different theme in terms of more metabolic response, rather than measurements of the general metabolome and this keyword has gone down. There are other words that also refer to the same concept, like metabolic profiling or profiling method that is also known with the same notion, which is essentially collecting by using different analytical techniques, statistical methods, generating a picture of what is a metabolic profile. Usually, this difference between metabolomics and more analytical techniques are maybe in analytical techniques since you are measuring a few compounds very accurately and are trying to figure out what the concentration of certain chemistry or chemicals is. In metabolomics, you are measuring a lot of compounds, simultaneously. There are different ways that people do these measurements, classically it is known as targeted or untargeted metabolomics. Although these terms are now merging in a way that uses of untargeted and targeted are converging, meaning that there are a lot of metabolites that you measure and you know what they are, in same time in the same experiment, in the same techniques, while you are encountering or measuring unknown as well.