NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada today said they have completed the first draft of the human metabolome.
Describing the 2-year-old project as one that will “have more immediate impact on medicine and medical practices than the Human Genome Project,” the University of Alberta said researchers have catalogued “2,500 metabolites, 1,200 drugs, and 3,500 food components that can be found in the human body.”
The Human Metabolome Project was funded with $7.5 million from Genome Canada through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Machine Learning, and the University of Alberta.
Project leader David Wishart said metabolites “are the canaries in the coal mine” in terms of medical diagnostics, because the metabolome is highly sensitive to food, lifestyle, environment, seasons and even mood, the researchers said.
For example, Wishart said, a single base change in DNA “can lead to a 100,000-times change in metabolite levels.”
"Unfortunately, less than 1 percent of known metabolites are being used in routine clinical testing,” said Elliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
The metabolome will be gathered into a database, called the HMDB, which Wishart said will allow researchers to “find out what metabolites are associated with which diseases, what the normal and abnormal concentrations are, where the metabolites are found or what genes are associated with which metabolites.”