Universiteit Leiden

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Better, faster and earlier diagnosis with new Metabolomics Facility

On Friday 17 April Leiden Mayor Henri Lenferink will officially open the new Metabolomics Facility of Leiden University. The facility’s ultimate goal is to prevent disease and to improve health throughout the human lifespan.

Early diagnosis

In many diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, changes in metabolism already occur at an early stage, even before there are any symptoms. Metabolomics research makes changes in metabolism visible, which in turn will make it possible in future to establish diagnoses better, faster and earlier, as well as to predict the effect of different methods of treatment. In this way researchers hope to be able to determine which diabetes patients run the highest risk of suffering kidney failure, or to establish whether a specific drug can prevent kidney failure in a given patient. An area that Leiden researchers are working on is the early detection of Alzheimer’s and methods for preventing this brain disease in future.

Personalised medicine

Research has shown that patients react to drugs differently. Metabolomics is an important technology for the further development of personalised medicine, in other words, customised treatment. For example, Leiden researchers recently identified a biomarker that may predict whether a person will develop arrhythmias and are likely to require a defibrillator.

Metabolomics: component of the future

Thomas Hankemeier, Leiden Professor of Analytical Biosciences: ‘Genes predict the risk of developing a given disease, and metabolic measurements determine the actual health of a patient. The combination of genetic research and metabolomics research allows us to study the development of diseases. This powerful combination means that metabolomics will form an important component of the clinical laboratory of the future.’

International speakers

The Metabolomics Facility ispart of the Gorlaeus Laboratories, but the official opening will take place in the Corpus Museum. The Dean of the Faculty of Science, Geert de Snoo, will give a presentation about metabolomics research. This will be followed by a mini-symposium exploring future possibilities: disease prevention, the role of pharmacology in customised treatment and the discovery of new natural compounds. The leaders of the Personalised Medicine programmes of the Mayo Clinic and Duke University, both located in the US, will discuss the extent to which we are already able to use metabolomics to predict the effectiveness of various treatments and how metabolomics can contribute to the treatment of patients in the near future. Before and after the opening speech, there will be an opportunity to talk to the experts and visit the new facility.

National and international collaboration

The facility is the fruit of collaboration between the BioMedical Facility of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research and the Natural Products Laboratory of the Institute of Biology Leiden and it offers researchers and companies access to a unique combination of fields of expertise. The facility will be used to conduct measurements for the LUMC, the Erasmus Medical Centre and leading clinics such as the Mayo Clinic. Close collaboration has been sought with international companies such as Janssen Pharmaceutical and Unilever. The metabolomics facility will also be used by a number of BioScience Park companies, including Astellas, ZF-screens, Inovo, and the Centre for Human Drug Research.

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