The development of metabolomics
Although metabolomics has reached maturity, it is the newest ‘omics technique and trails genomics and proteomics in terms of the number of publications and the current estimated market value.
The metabolomics market value is expected to increase at a CAGR of 30% between 2013 and 20181, yet there are still many challenges within the field to overcome. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies have readily adopted the concept of metabolomics, and in combination with improvements in analytical equipment and data analysis software have driven the development of the field over the past 15 years. North-America and Europe currently dominate the metabolomics market. However, it is expected that the market will soon expand in the Asia-Pacific region.
Metabolomics has evolved from multidisciplinary research with collaborative working relationships between scientists from different disciplines and industry-academic collaborations to overcome the challenges in metabolomics notably metabolite identification, standardisation of data analysis and the sharing of data and resources.
The formation of the Metabolomics Society in 2004 was instrumental in linking the global metabolomics community. The first journal dedicated to the field of “metabolomics” was launched in 2005, and with the Metabolomics Society has published many of the major publications in defining and standardising guidelines for the metabolomics community. The society now has almost one thousand members and the Early-Career Network was formed in 2013 to support the development of early-career scientists. The society has recently established task groups – this is a social grouping in which members of the society across the world work together to address the challenges within the field.
In recent years world-class research centres have been funded to support the development of metabolomics. These include, in the UK the National Phenome Centre funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to deliver access to world-class capability in metabolic phenotyping. The centre was established using state-of-the-art analytical equipment applied during the London 2012 Olympics. At the University of Birmingham the Phenome Centre Birmingham (PC-B) officially opened on the 23rd May 2016. In the United States a comprehensive program exists to improve the national capacity in metabolomics via the NIH common fund’s metabolomics program. The program supports the establishment of resources, training to increase the number of skilled professionals, technology development and expansion of databases to facilitate metabolites identification. Various centres across Europe support the development of metabolomics technologies (Netherlands Metabolomics Centre) or provide access to metabolomics technologies (Swedish Metabolomics Centre).
The omics will continue to develop with improvements in analytical instrumentation to measure more molecules at lower concentrations and data processing techniques and analysis software to extract the biological knowledge from these large data sets. The application areas of the omics is expected to extend significantly into personalised and stratified medicine.
1Metabolomics Market By Technique, Application and by Indications – Global Forecasts to 2019, Marketsandmarkets.com, report July 2016.
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