Metabolomics: Bridging the Gap between Pharmaceutical Development and Population Health

Metabolomics, 2016, Tolstikov – Metabolomic analysis is essential in the development of personalized, precision medicine

Author: Tolstikov Vladimir

In this review article, Dr. Vladimir Tolstikov, Berg’s Director of Metabolomics, discusses the current state and trends of metabolomics applications in pharmaceutical development, and highlights the importance of clinical metabolomics in precision medicine.  Metabolomics is the quantitative and qualitative study of small molecules (known as metabolites) present in the human body due to normal and disease processes in organs and tissues.  There have been several advances in technology to study metabolites, including mass spectrometry-based methods which are capable of translating biological output to therapeutic candidates.  In a pharmacological discovery setting, metabolomics is capable of reporting on drug efficacy and safety, as well as changes in metabolite profiles due to the drug being evaluated.  Metabolomics is also used to measure several metabolite changes at once, where a single change may not be diagnostic, a panel change may be indicative of disease.  Metabolomics in pharmacological development, termed pharmacometabolomics, is used frequently in clinical trials to group patients in order for researchers to predict the outcome of the trial therapy.  This technique has become an integral part of development of precision medicine.  Particularly, use of different ‘omic’ platforms and analyzing merged data will enable researchers in the future to link metabolic processes to disease onset, treatment and prediction of drug response.