NMPCNetherlands Metabolic Phenome Centre


Prof. Thomas Hankemeier
Einsteinweg 55, 2333 CC Leiden
University Utrecht, Erasmus MC, Radboud MC, Leiden UMC

Metabolomics aims for the system-wide analysis of small molecules (metabolites, lipids) to understand the role of metabolism in biology. In recent years mass spectrometry-based metabolomics technologies have been further developed and applied to discover prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers to reveal disease mechanisms using epidemiological and clinical studies often in combination with genomics data. Metabolomics has been successfully used to study molecular networks in human models. The metabolomics research in Leiden, as the core infrastructure and leader of the Netherlands Metabolomics Centre, has been a worldwide recognized pioneer and driver of development and implementation of novel MS-based metabolomics technologies in the life sciences for more than 20 years. Leiden is one of the leaders coordinating metabolomics efforts in Europe and worldwide, and has been very instrumental for providing metabolomics support to academia and industry in the Netherlands.

Metabolomics is an emerging technology enabling the study of metabolites and lipids in human bodyfluids, tissues or cells to understand their role in biological systems. The environment we live in has a dominant impact on our health and explains an estimated 70% of the chronic disease burden. Therefore, the non-genetic drivers of health and disease, the environmental factors, called the exposome, together with the contributions from the gut microbiome, need to be characterized and combined with the genome of the individual to understand health. Mass spectrometry is the most suited technology to measure 100’s to 1000’s of small molecules in complex biological samples to provide a quantitative picture of the entire metabolism of a biological system, including the impact of the environment. Metabolomics thus allows us to understand the role of metabolism by providing better diagnostic readouts at earlier timepoints or developing better drug treatments by predicting treatment outcomes and avoiding unwanted side effects. Metabolomics is now applied to a wide range of applications including personalized medicine, diagnostics, drug research, biotech, nutrition, agrofood, and more. There is still not one universal method to measure all metabolites and small molecules quantitatively and very sensitive, and technology developments and innovations are crucial for academic, clinical and industrial researchers to make full use of metabolomics.
The Netherlands Metabolomics Centre (NMC), initiated in 2007 and led by Leiden University, has played a crucial role in the development of innovative technologies necessary to measure metabolites quantitatively in complex biological samples, and to interpret the results. NMC has made metabolomics available to life science researchers via the Metabolomics core lab at Leiden University, and leads the Netherlands Metabolic Phenome Centre (NMPC) with UU, Erasmus MC and Radboud MC as main partners. Leiden has also been co-coordinating standardization efforts in the European metabolomics research community via large EU grants (COSMOS, PhenoMeNAL). Currently, Leiden University is establishing a strategic alliance with Imperial College to develop technologies for analyzing 100,000’s of samples from large biobank collections as organized within BBMRI-NL and UK biobank. This unparalleled effort requires the development of innovative technologies for sample preparation and mass spectrometry, and requires the availability of state-of-the-art mass spectrometers. For the translation of findings into clinical decision support and clinical research, a strategic partnership has been established with Erasmus MC, where novel instrumentation is being developed for metabolic profiling at the point of care. For developing exposome research, in a strategic partnership Utrecht University (Roel Vermeulen) provides the computational exposome node.
Leiden University has been involved in making metabolomics data available in collaboration with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and hosts MetabolomeXchange, a portal to guide researchers and users to the proper repository to search within metabolomics studies. Leiden University is part of various large-scale European and US-EU programs, and part of the NWO Gravity program Exposome-NL.
Leiden University is a one of the core leaders of the NWO Netherlands X-omics initiative and leads the metabolomics pillar in this national Roadmap project. In X-omics, Leiden provides access for biomedical researchers that want to combine metabolomics with proteomics or genomics technologies. Leiden and the NMC have been pioneers in metabolomics through the technical innovations in microfluidic and high throughput sample preparation and mass spectrometry, and therefore, Leiden proposes the establishment of a new technology focused cluster, MS-NL to develop and provide access to the next generation of mass spectrometry applications for a broad range of researchers (see section 6).

Aansluiting bij strategische ontwikkelingen
Life Sciences & Health
Personalised medicine: uitgaan van het individu
Meten en detecteren: altijd, alles en overal