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Drug Discov Today. 2005 Nov 15;10(22):1551-8.

Metabolomics: from pattern recognition to biological interpretation.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, 14424 Potsdam, Germany.


Metabolomics is a technology that aims to identify and quantify the metabolome -- the dynamic set of all small molecules present in an organism or a biological sample. In this sense, the technique is distinct from metabolic profiling, which looks for target compounds and their biochemical transformation. The combination of both approaches is an emerging technique for the characterization of biological samples and for drug treatment. Metabolomics has proven to be very rapid and superior to any other post-genomics technology for pattern-recognition analyses of biological samples. Changing steady state concentrations and fluctuations of metabolites that occur within milliseconds are a result of biochemical processes such as signalling cascades: metabolomic techniques are instrumental in measuring these changes rapidly and sensitively. Metabolite data can be complemented by protein, transcript and external (environmental) data, thereby leading to the identification of multiple physiological biomarkers embedded in correlative molecular networks that are not approachable with targeted studies.

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