Biology: Metabolics Does An End Run Around Genomics

Harvard Magazine, May – June 2011

“FATHOMING METABOLISM:  The Study of Metabolites Does An End Run Around Genomics to Provide Telling Clues To Your Future Health,” by Jonathan Shaw

“A THIMBLE FULL OF YOUR BLOOD.  To Robert Gerszten, that’s like a window on your well-being.  In some cases, it may even let him see into the future of your health.  Gertzen and his colleague Greg Lewis work at the leading edge of an emerging new field–metabolics–that promises powerful insights in to the mechanisms of human heealth and disease.  They study blood metabolites that are small molecules, such as amino acids, lipids (fats), nucleotides, and carbohydrates, involved in metabolism.”

Metabolomics is a field of study that describes the metabolic products of the human genome, which may have, according to the article, a “decisive edge” over the study and use of genomics to analyze current and future health of patients:  Genome encodes have roughly more than a million proteins, each with a specific function.  Metobolics has, “as a curent best guess,” about 3,000 to 6,000 metabolics of interest.

The researchers published an article in Nature Medicine in March of this year describing markers for diabetes “that identify people likely to develop diabees more than a decade before any sign of the disease appears.”  Thus the end run around genome markers:  faster and possibly future diagnosis with less markers to decode.

Please see http://www.sports idioms/football for the definition and other uses for end run.



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