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Current Status of Metabolomic Biomarker Discovery: Impact of Study Design and Demographic Characteristics

Metabolites; 2020 May 29;10(6):E224

Vladimir Tolstikov, A James Moser, Rangaprasad Sarangarajan, Niven R Narain, Michael A Kiebish

Widespread application of omic technologies is evolving our understanding of population health and holds promise in providing precise guidance for selection of therapeutic interventions based on patient biology. The opportunity to use hundreds of analytes for diagnostic assessment of human health compared to the current use of 10-20 analytes will provide greater accuracy in deconstructing the complexity of human biology in disease states. Conventional biochemical measurements like cholesterol, creatinine, and urea nitrogen are currently used to assess health status; however, metabolomics captures a comprehensive set of analytes characterizing the human phenotype and its complex metabolic processes in real-time. Unlike conventional clinical analytes, metabolomic profiles are dramatically influenced by demographic and environmental factors that affect the range of normal values and increase the risk of false biomarker discovery. This review addresses the challenges and opportunities created by the evolving field of clinical metabolomics and highlights features of study design and bioinformatics necessary to maximize the utility of metabolomics data across demographic groups.

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