TMIC is North America’s premiere single source destination providing fee-for-service metabolic profiling. We offer a broad range of custom metabolomics services to fill any need. If you want the fastest, most quantitative and comprehensive metabolomics facility on the continent, you’re at the right place.
Metabolomics is an emerging field of "omics" research specializing in the near global analysis of small molecule metabolites found in living organisms. Its applications are already being seen in a broad range of disciplines including disease diagnostics, agriculture food and safety, and pharmaceutical R&D.
Vital to metabolomics research is the ability to share it with the wider community. Since 2006, the Wishart lab at the University of Alberta has made its research publicly available, developing metabolomic databases, programs and web servers accessed by researchers and private sector partners worldwide.
Metabolomics Enhances Dietary Analysis
October 29, 2019
Dr. Philip Britz-McKibbin, one of TMIC's lead scientists, as well as a group of researchers at McMaster have identified several metabolites, detectable in blood and urine, that can accurately measure dietary intake, potentially offering a new tool for physicians, dietitians and researchers to assess eating habits, measure the value of fad diets and develop health policies. The research, published in the journal Nutrients, addresses a major challenge in assessing diets: studies in nutrition largely rely on participants to record their own food intake, which is subject to human error, forgetfulness or omission. Scientists set out to determine if they could identify chemical signatures, or metabolites, that reflect changes in dietary intake, measure those markers and then compare the data with the foods study participants were provided and then reported they had eaten. With the aid of metabolomics technologies they were able to detect short-term changes in dietary patterns which could be measured objectively.
Britz-McKibbin cautions that food chemistry is highly complex. Our diets are composed of thousands of different kinds of chemicals, he says, and researchers don’t know what role they all may play in overall health. In future, he hopes to broaden this work by examining a larger cohort of participants over a longer period of time. His team is also exploring several ways to assess maternal nutrition during crucial stages of fetal development and its impact on obesity and metabolic syndrome risk in children.
This article was originally posted on McMaster's Brighter World by Michelle Donovan.
The paper, published in Nutrients, can be found on the MDPI website.
Study Aims to Improve Nutrition in PKU Patients
October 14, 2019
Phenylketonuria, also called PKU, is a rare metabolic disorder that causes a severe buildup of the amino acid phenylalanine in circulation. If left untreated, PKU can lead to intellectual disability, seizures, behavioral problems, and mental disorders. Management of PKU requires the lifelong restriction of protein intake using specialized medical foods. This poses a challenge to patients wanting to maintain their diet while ensuring adequate nutrition. A unique collaboration between TMIC's own Dr. Britz-McKibbin and McMaster Children's Hospital has developed a non-invasive approach for better treatment monitoring of patients with PKU. Through metabolomic profiling, they identified new biomarkers in urine that yield much more accurate information regarding patient dietary adherence when compared to self-reported diet records. Moreover, the study paves the way to designing novel therapies that will help PKU patients adhere to specific diets without nutritional deficiencies.
To find out more, the article is available here.
Scientists find simple urine test could offer a non-invasive approach for diagnosis of IBS patients
August 28, 2019
A recent study by TMIC’s Britz-McKibbin Research Group at McMaster University has identified new biomarkers for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) after comparing the metabolite profiles of urine samples from a cohort of IBS patients to a control group of healthy adults.
Speaking on the study’s findings, lead author Dr. Philip Britz-McKibbin commented, “We were interested in finding if there is a better way to detect and monitor IBS that avoids invasive colonoscopy procedures while also giving us better insights into its underlying mechanisms.”
In addition to the study, the Britz-McKibbin Research Group is currently expanding its research to discover new biomarkers in urine that can differentiate Crohn’s disease from ulcerative colitis in children. The group aims to avoid future colonoscopies altogether, and hopes that their research may allow for rapid screening of various chronic gut disorders more accurately and at a lower cost.
Thermodynamics-based retention maps to guide column choices for comprehensive multi-dimensional gas chromatography
August 28, 2019
Published in Analytica Chimica Acta, Dr. James Harynuk’s latest publication looks at optimizing the design and development of new two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC) methods using secondary columns. The inclusion of these columns can enhance the separation power over one-dimensional GC methods and improve ultimate separation quality. However, the choices of stationary phase chemistries, geometries and configurations must also be assessed before changing the instrument design.
Previously, these choices were made using educated guesses, literature searches, or trial and error. In this article, Dr. Harynuk proposes a new thermodynamic model for GC separations which uses characteristic thermodynamic parameters to create retention maps. These maps provide a fast and easy way of acquiring information that can inform choices of column chemistries, phase ratios and configurations.
Dr. Harynuk also points out that although these retention maps were used to evaluate two-dimensional GC separations, they can be easily extended to evaluate three-dimensional (GCxGCxGC) separations as well.
Research opens up possibility of saliva test for Alzheimer's Disease
August 28, 2019
In a recent interview with the Edmonton Journal, TMIC’s own Dr. Liang Li and University of Alberta psychology professor Dr. Roger Dixon discussed their latest research into the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. Taking a non-invasive approach, Li and Dixon examined the saliva samples of 109 patients who were grouped according to whether they had Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, or neither.
After analyzing over 6,000 metabolites in the samples using mass spectrometry, Li and Dixon were able to identify three of these compounds as biomarkers. These biomarkers can not only help doctors identify which individuals have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but also assist in the development of effective preventative measures for patients to use.
Introducing the Milk Composition Database
August 28, 2019
The Milk Composition Database (MCDB) is a freely available online resource containing detailed information about small molecule metabolites found in cow’s milk. Developed by TMIC’s Wishart Research Group, MCDB contains a complete list of metabolite names, structures, level of verification, reference spectra and citations for all of the milk compounds that have ever been identified, quantified or reported in either this database or existing scientific literature.
MCDB currently contains 2,355 metabolite entries, including water and lipid-soluble metabolites as well as metabolites that would be regarded as either abundant (>1 uM) or relatively rare (<1 nM). Each metabolite entry contains more than 90 data fields, and many of them are hyperlinked to other databases (including PubChem and DrugBank, among others) as well as a variety of structure and pathway viewing applets. In addition, MCDB is fully searchable and supports text, mass, spectral and structure searches.