The latest version of the Human MetabolomeDatabase (v4.0) lists 114,100 individual entries, nearly a threefold increase from version 3. Typically, however, metabolomics studies identify only around 100 compounds and many features identified in mass spectra are listed only as ‘unknown compounds’. The lack of ability to fully identify all metabolites detected (which I term the dark metabolome) means that, despite the great contribution of metabolomics to a range of areas in the last decade, a significant amount of useful information from publicly funded studies is being lost or unused each year. This loss of data limits our potential gain in knowledge and understanding of important research areas such as cell biology, environmental pollution, plant science, food chemistry and health and biomedical research. Metabolomics therefore needs to develop new tools and methods for metabolite identification to advance as a field. In this talk I will identify potential issues with metabolite identification and how how new and discuss some of the emerging technologies which may help solve this problem (thus illuminating the dark metabolome) and advance metabolomics. I will specifically discusses Dynamic Nuclear Polarisation Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (DNP-NMR), non-proton NMR active nuclei, Two-Dimensional Liquid Chromatography (2DLC) and Raman Spectroscopy (RS) and show how developing new methods for metabolomics with these techniques could lead to advances in metabolomics and better characterisation of biological systems.
Video from the Keynote Speaker Dr. Oliver Jones can be found: