The biomedical program of the NMC aims to identify biomarkers for several important diseases, and to contribute to biological understanding of the underlying pathologies. The emphasis is on metabolomics-based phenotyping of diseases or drug treatment effects in humans and in animal models.
In eight individual, and partially interrelated projects, six different conditions are investigated: migraine, metabolic syndrome (including metabolic side effects of prednisolone), arthritis, endometriosis, cancer and age-dependent degeneration and healthier ageing. Another project together with instrument manufacturers, has started, enabling high throughput metabolomics and in-depth lipid profiling.
The strength of the program is based on
- the collaboration with existing excellent biological programs at universities, medical centers and pharmaceutical industry (three associate partners have received the Spinoza award);
- the network of interactions external as well as internal in the NMC; and
- the broadness of the program, which increases the chance of achieving major breakthroughs, while forging links between metabolomics research and many different biomedical research groups in the Netherlands. Therefore the program is still in its early phase with ten of the eleven projects starting in 2010 or 2011.
Biological interpretation is seen as a key factor for success. The Executive Committee has recently appointed a theme leader to maximize collaboration in this biomedical program and with the core projects; and emphasis will be given to aid biological analysis and development of a systems view on human disease. It can be expected that especially exchange of experience with tools and methods developed in the core projects and applied to biomedical questions, and exchange of tools developed in these associate projects will accelerate the individual biomedical projects.