Translating global metabolomics into clinical applications

Online Seminar

Dr. Liang Li is invited to deliver a 50-minute seminar on discussing the current challenges and potential solutions for “Translating global metabolomics into clinical applications” at the MSACL Connect online event. There is no cost to register for this presentation. Check out more details here

Metabolomics is a relative newcomer to the Omics family for the large-scale characterization of small molecules of biological systems. A key step in metabolomics is to determine metabolic differences among different samples. We want to detect and quantify as many metabolites as possible, ideally covering the entire chemical space of the metabolome.

High-coverage metabolome analysis will benefit many research areas, including disease biomarker discovery, population-based health analytics, and clinical applications. This presentation will discuss current challenges and potential solutions for translating global metabolomics into clinical applications.

MSACL (The Association for Mass Spectrometry & Advances in the Clinical Lab) was incorporated in May 2009 as a non-profit association and is tax-exempt under 501(c)(3). The association’s mission is to further the accumulation and sharing of expertise in the area of mass spectrometry and advanced technologies for use in the clinical laboratory with the goal of improving patient care. 


One of Li Node’s works, “Instrument-type effects on chemical isotope labeling LC-MS metabolome analysis: Quadrupole time-of-flight MS vs. Orbitrap MS,” which compares combined datasets from various MS instruments, was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Analytica Chimica Acta.

Chemical isotope labeling (CIL) LC-MS is a powerful tool for metabolome analysis with markedly improved metabolomic coverage and quantification accuracy over the conventional LC-MS technique. By combining the datasets obtained using QTOF and Orbitrap, the total number of peak pairs detected could be significantly increased. The results from this study clearly indicate that instrument type can have a profound effect on metabolite detection in CIL LC-MS. Therefore, comparison of metabolome data generated using different instruments needs to be carefully done. 

Image is from Zhao S. et al., Anal. Chem. 2019, 91, 12108−12115

Besides, the publication on clinical application, “High-Coverage Quantitative Metabolomics of Human Urine: Effects of Freeze–Thaw Cycles on the Urine Metabolome and Biomarker Discovery” was also highlighted in the previous news section. This study involved two centres located in Hangzhou (China) with 80 healthy subjects and Edmonton (Canada) with 44 subjects, and the metabolome analysis was conducted with two independent cohorts of samples.

Metabolomics Publication Freeze Thaw Cycle


Dr. Liang Li is scientific co-director and Node leader of TMIC. His team is focused on the application of the CIL LC-MS methods, metabolomics, lipidomics, microbiome, and plant metabolites. More details about these assays are below:

  • Global (Untargeted) Lipidomics Profiling uses a cutting-edge method to analyze the lipidome in both positive and negative ionization. It typically detects, identifies and relatively quantifies more than 5,000 lipids for positive ionization and more than 2,000 lipids for negative ionization.
  • Microbiome Metabolite Assay allows accurate relative quantification of 851 microbiome metabolites in comparative samples, including known microbiota-related and other microbiota-host-related endogenous metabolites
  • Plant Metabolome Assay (PMA), one of the newest assays with accurate relative quantification of up to 8,275 plant metabolites in comparative samples, including plant hormones, secondary metabolites, primary metabolites and many other general pathway related metabolites.
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