Nutritional Metabolomics

infant food and healthBiological systems are complex as its important activities occur at various molecular levels – nucleic acids, proteins as well as small molecules. Metabolomics explores all small molecules in a system in a quest to better understand the biological insight behind various phenotypic changes in response to environmental changes / differences. Unlike other ‘omics’ technologies (genomics, proteomics…etc), metabolomics provides biological insight that not only reflects an individuals unique genetic fingerprint, but also lifestyle, diet and environment. Using metabolomics, researchers can quantitatively analyze non-genetic factors that are involved in postgenomic and posttranscriptional modification. Recent technological advances have dramatically changed our view on life science research ranging from medical and lab technicians to clinical professionals. Previously, we have used 1H NMR technology to profile low-molecular-mass metabolites that are present in biological samples from various healthy and disease phenotypes, including various types of tissues, serum, urine, breast milk, cerebrospinal fluid and feces.

Applying Metabolomics approaches to understand the impact of early diet and nutrition on Infant health.

Infant feeding is critical for growth, immune system development , proper regulation of metabolism, and early succession of the infant gut microbiome. To better understand the influence of infant diet on health, we used rhesus monkeys as a model to compare different feeding modes (See here for the publication on rhesus monkey model).  Our analysis of metabolites detected novel differences between infant rhesus monkeys that were fed with infant formula or breast milk. This study revealed the important aspect of early diet on infant metabolic health (See here for the comparison between the breast-fed and the formula-fed).

Applying Metabolomics approaches to define biomarkers for disease prediction, diagnosis and management

Clinicians typically define health as the lack of observable disease. Disease has typically been characterized as having a single cause with a single diagnostic target. Considerable research is now linking metabolic imbalances to human disease. Indeed, rather than a single target changing in response to a particular disease, entire metabolic pathways can be subtly altered. By simultaneously measuring a large number of metabolites, metabolomics may be able to provide more clues to a health or disease state than traditional clinical chemistry tests. Moreover, metabolomics will become a valuable tool to determine efficacy of treatment, and management of disease.