University of Alberta scientists seem to have unraveled a chemical correspondent of the human genome, in a breakthrough research. This finding promises to be a harbinger of novel ways of diagnosing diseases - by understanding the chemical composition of the human body. The project costing $7.5 million is funded by Genome Canada.
In a maiden attempt at drafting the human 'metabolome', scientists identified and described 2,500 metabolites, 1,200 drugs and 3,500 food components, present in the human body.
Project Leader Dr. David Wishart, professor of computing science and biological sciences at the University of Alberta, said, "Metabolites are the canaries of the genome. A single base change in our DNA can lead to a 100,000-times change in metabolite levels."
Basically metabolites are molecules which play a role in the processes that constitute the metabolism in a living being. When all the metabolic reactions form a network it is called a metabolome.
"Most medical tests today are based on measuring metabolites in blood or urine. Unfortunately, less than 1% of known metabolites are being used in routine clinical testing. If you can only see 1% of what's going on in the body, you're obviously going to miss a lot," Wishart added.