John D Odom, V Reid Sutton
Clinical Chemistry, Volume 67, Issue 12, December 2021, Pages 1606–1617,
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Metabolomics is the study of small molecules to simultaneously identify multiple low molecular weight molecules in a system. Broadly speaking, metabolomics can be subdivided into targeted and untargeted types of analysis, each type having advantages and drawbacks. Targeted metabolomics can quantify analytes but only looks for known or expected analytes related to particular disease(s), whereas untargeted metabolomics is typically nonquantitative but can detect thousands of analytes from an agnostic or nonhypothesis driven perspective, allowing for novel discoveries.
One application of metabolomics is the study of inborn errors of metabolism (IEM). The biochemical hallmark of IEMs is decreased concentrations of analytes distal to the enzymatic defect and buildup of analytes proximal to the defect. Metabolomics can detect these changes with one test and is effective in screening for and diagnosis of IEMs. Metabolomics has also been used to study many nonmetabolic diseases such as autism spectrum disorder, various cancers, and multiple congenital anomalies syndromes. Metabolomics has led to the discovery of many novel biomarkers of disease. Recent publications demonstrate how metabolomics can be useful clinically in the diagnosis and management of patients, as well as for research and clinical discovery.
Metabolomics has proved to be a useful tool clinically for screening and diagnostic purposes and from a research perspective for the detection of novel biomarkers. In the future, metabolomics will likely become a routine part of the evaluation for many diseases as either a supplementary test or it may simply replace historical analyses that require several individual tests and sample types.
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