The general aim of metabolomics is to identify measure and interpret the complex time-related concentration, flux and activity of the metabolites, in a biological sample. Metabolites include small molecules that are the products and intermediates of metabolism, but also carbohydrates, peptides, and lipids, and can be seen as the chemical characterisation of the phenotype. As the youngest of the –omics field, metabolomics is still developing. Many ongoing research focuses on development of new genomics and proteomics tools and utilization of those approaches for studying cellular function. In contrast, relatively few research programs focus on metabolomics. One of the most important problems, which have been identified by the researchers involved in metabolomics research, is the lack of standardization of the sample preparation step. Currently, nearly every group follows its own home-brew method for the sample preparation, which makes it very difficult to compare the data of different research groups and to use them for setting up a public data base. The goal of the proposed partnership is to develop innovative sample preparation methods for metabolome analysis in different biological materials, including the specifications of these methods, such as critical steps, reproducibility, and standard deviations. The research will build upon the extensive expertise of QIAGEN in developing standard methods for sample preparation in life sciences applications, and the extensive knowledge on natural products isolation and analysis of the Section Metabolomics at the IBL, Leiden University. The project will strengthen the competitive position of the EU in research metabolomics as in the technology development for metabolomics. It will also accelerate the use of metabolomics in different fields, such as e.g. biomarker discovery, indicator for nutritional status, drug toxicity testing and identification of novel secondary metabolites in plant system.
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