The main scientific fields of interest of the metabolomics research area concern metabolic biomarker discovery and targeted metabolic analyses for a wide range of diseases. The Metabolomics Group is involved in the design and the development of experimental tools for metabolomics applied to several scientific projects.
Untargeted metabolomics: Prostate cancer over-diagnosis and over-treatment depends on the lack of reliable tools to discriminate between clinically indolent Prostate cancer (PCa) from more aggressive disease. Fluids that are proximal to the prostate, such as expressed prostatic secretions (EPS), are attractive sources of potential cancer biomarkers. Therefore, an untargeted metabolomic approach was applied to provide a metabolic signature of EPS with the potential to improve the diagnostic pathway of PCa, decreasing the number of unnecessary prostate biopsy. (in collaboration with Dr Briganti, Urological Research Center, IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele)
Targeted metabolomics: Among many on-going projects, ProMeFa developed a targeted method to identify both unconjugated and glycine/taurine conjugated bile acids in human serum and spermatic fluid (in collaboration with Dr Alfano, Urological Research Center, IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele). In addition, a quick single run method to quantify all 20 amino acids in tissues has been developed by applying a specific derivatization protocol. This approach could be useful in the context of metabolic disorders where the simultaneous quantification of all amino acids is crucial in the disease aethiology description.
Fluxomics: Recently, the 13C metabolic flux analysis has emerged as the primary technique to quantify intracellular fluxes in cancer cells. With the technological advances in LC-MS/MS, it is now possible to measure mass isotopomer distributions for a large number of intracellular metabolites. ProMeFa has implemented the expertise and the tools essential to perform metabolic flux analysis by using 13C-metabolites including an in-house software developed by an ongoing collaboration with the Institute of Biomedical Technologies, National Research Council (CNR). This script allows us to directly define the rate of isotopic labeling incorporation thus obtaining crucial details about the quantitative map of cellular metabolism for many dysmetabolic diseases, besides cancer.
Lipidomics by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR): Lipid analysis by NMR is a challenging task poorly investigated so far. ProMeFa is developing a methodology for apolar compounds analysis and identification, and for their quantitative evaluation to distinguish and characterize dyslipidemic tissues, such as steatotic liver and hypertrophic visceral adipose tissue.