The aim of the NMC Quantitative Profiling (QP) Theme is to develop a new generation of metabolomics platforms inspired by biology and driven by technological opportunities. Two groups of projects can be distinguished:
- projects focussing on specific regions of the full metabolome with region selection being driven by biological needs and,
- projects that aim to develop innovative analytical technologies for future generation metabolomics platforms.
A total of 11 interdependent, well-aligned projects has been defined. The projects started between approx. 1 and 2.5 years ago. Progress so far has been good: platforms for phosphopeptide, oxy-lipid and isoprostane analysis have been developed, validated and transferred to the Demonstration and Competence Laboratory (DCL). These platforms are now also being applied to urgent biological questions related to chronic inflammatory disorders, regulation of life span and oxidative stress.
New hard-ware developments are investigated to extend the coverage of the NMC platforms towards more compounds and lower levels, as well as to increase throughput, accuracy and intra-laboratory comparability of quantitative data. The output in terms of papers, posters and patents is still limited but is growing: 11 posters and lectures, 16 papers and 4 patent applications. The slow start is largely due to start-up problems in combination with the revolutionary (yet not unrealistic !) nature of many of the research plans. Important achievements realised so far include the above- mentioned platforms, 150 μm micro-needles for nano-sampling from blisters and skin, a heater-less MS interface, a novel preconcentrator based on depletion zone isotachophoresis and an evaporative preconcentrator for comprehensive liquid chromatography. Prospects for success of the Theme and valorisation of the findings are very good. Many items are ready for use by others and for incorporation into improved platforms. Most of the project’s plans require little or no changes. Where necessary adequate measures have been taken to set priorities and increase output.
The relevance of the QP Theme for the NMC is as high as ever. There are great ideas about to be realised, with the demand for such improved methods remaining huge. The availability of the envisioned systems will certainly contribute to the competitive advantage of the NMC.