Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Development of Comprehensive and High-throughput metabolomics techniques

A major goal of ABS research is to overcome one of the major bottle-necks in metabolomic research: the lack of a high-throughput infrastructure in which thousands of samples can be processed in a standardized and cost-effective way (max. a few tens of Euro’s per sample for a full metabolome profile). The first standardized platforms with limited metabolite numbers have already shown highly relevant associations with diverse health conditions in the epidemiological domain. This creates a real urgency for the high-throughput infrastructure that can profile samples in the translational domain for preventive and clinical research.

Thomas Hankemeier

We are aiming to develop novel technologies that will allow for better sample preparation or coupling of analytical methods to analyse more metabolites in a quantitative manner and/or increase the sample throughput.

We are currently developing biology-driven platforms to measure metabolites based on liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), gas chromatography-MS (GC-MS), and capillary electrophoresis-MS (CE-MS). We have developed a unique series of untargeted platforms (to cover the physicochemical and biochemical space of metabolites) and targeted biology-driven platforms (to cover specific metabolites present at ultra-low concentrations and/or requiring specialised sample pre-treatment). Our current metabolomics methods can detect >2000 metabolites and lipids; half of these compounds can be identified, whilst 25% are reported in absolute concentrations. For example, we are profiling metabolic changes accompanying inflammatory and immune stress, oxidative and metabolic stress, lipid and energy/carbon metabolism, gut health and the impact of the gut on the host, and more. These highly informative metabolic profiles will help us to understand the mechanisms of disease and enable personalized medicine.

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