New metabolomics techniques revolutionize biological and clinical research

Metabolism stands as a direct reflection of biological functions and pathological conditions. Over the years, biologists and medical professionals have delved deep into the intricate metabolic mechanisms governing our bodies in health and disease. Various techniques, including LC-MS, GC-MS, and CE-MS, have expanded our understanding of how metabolism plays a pivotal role in our well-being.

However, profiling the metabolome across different scales, from organelles to cells and tissues, remains a challenge. Traditional methods like LC-MS, GC-MS, and CE-MS, which analyze mixtures of biological samples, have limitations when it comes to revealing the diverse metabolic behaviors within tissues.

This has left us searching for ways to uncover the metabolome of individual cells and understand how metabolites are distributed within tissues. Fortunately, advancements in traditional techniques have accelerated progress in metabolomics research, bridging the gap between biological studies and clinical applications.

One groundbreaking achievement is the advent of single-cell and single-organelle metabolomics, which offers in-depth insights into the metabolic workings of individual cells and cellular components. The rise of single-cell transcriptomics and sequencing has furthered our exploration of cellular diversity, capturing the attention of the scientific community.

These advancements allow us to comprehensively study the multifaceted nature of metabolism and its crucial role in various biological processes, from deciphering the metabolic variations within aging lysosomes to uncovering new metabolic pathways.

Another essential task for biologists and clinical researchers is visualizing metabolism in its natural context. Changes in metabolites during specific biological processes and diseases provide vital clues to underlying metabolic mechanisms. Mass spectrometry imaging has made on-site metabolic profiling of tissues and individual cells incredibly precise, enabling us to directly examine cellular and tissue metabolism.

These techniques have driven significant progress in cellular biology, aiding in the understanding of cell differentiation based on metabolism. Spatial reconstruction techniques provide a clear picture of metabolite distribution and changes within the three-dimensional space. Modifications to mass imaging have improved analytical tools for clinical applications, including intraoperative metabolomics, pathological analysis, and determining tumor margins.

Traditional metabolomic techniques like LC-MS and GC-MS still have their place in clinical applications such as therapeutic drug monitoring, newborn screening, and biomarker discovery. Innovations in these methods enhance healthcare solutions and therapeutics.

In summary, advancements in metabolomics technology have revolutionized our ability to analyze biological and clinical samples at various levels, offering a comprehensive view of metabolism in health and disease. The implementation of these innovative techniques has led to significant breakthroughs in biological and clinical research, promising even more benefits for patients in the future. This study has been published in the journal Science Bulletin.

Source: Science China Press

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