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Metabolic profile provides unique “fingerprint”

Metabolic profile provides unique “fingerprint”

Greifswald / Neuherberg, 16.05. 2011. On 15 May 2011, Nature Geneti cs, one of the most renowned international research journals, published the results of a study conducted by the Medical Faculty of the University of Greifswald and the Helmholtz Zentrum München. With the aid of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, 3,000 urine samples from two epidemiological studies were examined, providing new insights into the regulation of metabolism and kidney function. “The results are the first important findings to emerge from our top-level research into individualized medicine at Greifswald,” noted Professor Matthias Nauck, who headed the study. The GANI_MED  (Greifswald Approach to Individualized Medicine) research project will receive central and regional government grants totaling 15.4 million euros to enable it to develop tailor-made medical therapies and to conduct clinical trials  (www.gani-med.de).

The study published in Nature Genetics is the first in a large series of studies in which metabolic products in urine are examined with the aid of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and subsequently compared with genetic data. “The result is comparable to an X-ray image,” says Greifswald scientist Professor Henri Wallaschofski. “From urine we can obtain a unique fingerprint of an individual’s metabolic profile.” With the aid of this technology, researchers at the Metabolic Center of the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine in Greifswald identified 59 metabolic products in urine samples from about 2,000 participants in the Greifswald SHIP Study* and from 1,000 subjects who took part in the KORA Study*. “Data from the urine was evaluated along with the genetic information from the subjects’ blood. We were thus able to connect the pattern of the metabolic products in the urine with the subjects’ genes,” Professor Karsten Suhre  of the Helmholtz Zentrum München explains. In the process, the Greifswald research team, with the support of the GANI_MED cooperation partner, the Helmholtz Zentrum München, identified five genetic regions which in the past have been connected to widespread diseases of the kidney (renal insufficiency) or the heart (coronary heart disease). Professor Karsten Suhre from the Institute for Bioinformatics and Systems Biology at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, the corresponding author of the study, led the combined analysis of the metabolic data of  the participants in the study.

”Overall the study provides important new insights into individual genetic differences in the detoxification function of the kidney and its significance for common diseases. We want to establish nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in laboratory medicine and research because it opens up new potential for individualized medicine,” Professor Nauck stresses. The joint studies and the search for medically exploitable biomarkers for approaches to individualized therapy are to be continued, he says. “Using this method, a metabolic profile will to predict far more precisely an individual’s risk of developing certain diseases.”

Further Information

A genome-wide association study of metabolic traits in human urine.
Nature Genetics, published online 15. Mai 2011,  18.00 Uhr London time
DOI 10.1038/ng.837 (http://dx.doi.org )

*GANI_MED  (Greifswald Approach to Individualized Medicine)
The GANI_MED consortium unites expertise from university, extramural and industry partners from Germany and abroad in a broad, interdisciplinary approach in order to conduct extensive, holistic research into individualized medicine at the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald. All five faculties at the university are actively involved in the GANI_MED project. Our university offers great potential for research into this field at one of the most modern teaching hospitals in Germany. In addition, thanks to the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP), the necessary basic data on the health of a representative cross-section of the regional population is available. On this basis, the GANI_MED research consortium builds up cohorts of patients for six very common disease patterns (stroke, renal insufficiency, cardiac insufficiency, periodontal diseases, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome) and defines sub-groups for interventions. In addition, innovative analysis techniques are systematically developed to shed light on individual differences in the origins, progress and treatment of diseases that are significant both from a medical and healthcare policy point of view.

*KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg), headed by Prof. Dr. Dr. H.-Erich Wichmann, is a research platform for population-based health research in epidemiology, health economics, and health care research. KORA is a network of population-representative surveys and subsequent follow-up studies. The unique feature of this platform is the broad participation of external partners in the planning, implementation and financing of the individual projects. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/kora.

*SHIP (Study of Health in Pomerania)
SHIP was launched in 1997 and is one of the largest population-based epidemiological studies [in Northern Europe] . A total of 4,308 subjects took part in the first wave of examinations (SHIP-0). Of that number, 3,300 were re-examined in the second wave (SHIP-1). The third – and to date most comprehensive – wave began in January 2008. At present, 1,7000 subjects from the first two waves (SHIP-2) as well as 3,200 new participants (SHIP-TREND have completed the third series of examinations. About 7,000 participants are expected for SHIP-2 and SHIP-Trend together until the end of 2012. The range  of the current wave of examinations is hitherto unique worldwide. For the purpose of the study, all the previous and future samples will be examined for possible genetic diseases and metabolic disorders.  www.medizin.uni-greifswald.de/cm/fv/ship.html.

The Helmholtz Zentrum München is the German Research Centre for Environmental Health. The leading research facility in this field, it conducts research into chronic and complex diseases caused by the interaction of environmental factors and an individual’s genetic disposition. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 1,700 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich on a 50-hectare research campus. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest scientific organisation, a community of 17 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centres with a total of 30,000 staff members.

Contacts for media representatives

Sven Winkler . Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Reserach Centre for Environmental Health (GmbH), Ingolstädter Landstraße 1 85764 Neuherberg Germany. Phone.: + 49 89-3187-3946 . Fax +49 89-3187-3324 . email: presse@helmholtz-muenchen.de    


Scientific contact

Universitätsmedizin Greifswald
Institut für Klinische Chemie und Laboratoriumsmedizin

Direktor: Prof. Matthias Nauck                                  
Sauerbruchstraße, 17475 Greifswald
Phone:  +49 3834 86-55 00
email:  matthias.nauck@uni-greifswald.de

Helmholtz Zentrum München
Institut für Bioinformatik und Systembiologie
Prof. Karsten Suhre
Ingolstädter Landstraße 1, 85764 Neuherberg
Phone: +49 89 3187-3581

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