Metabolic map of human body created

June 17, 2014, Weill Cornell Medical College
A metabolic map of the human body drafted by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar that shows how human metabolism works as a system, and how it can potentially be modified to treat disease. Credit: Weill Cornell Medical College

(Medical Xpress)—Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) scientists have drafted a metabolic map of the human body that shows how human metabolism works as a system, and how it can potentially be modified to treat disease. The map, published in Nature Genetics shows different pathways between genes, enzymes and metabolites, demonstrating that a drug used to target one gene may have several different effects—and consequences—on other pathways.

A single genetic difference in the way that an enzyme behaves may produce positive or . It may make someone prone to certain diseases, or protect them from some illnesses.

"This is an atlas of how everybody is metabolically different. We can now really understand the genetic part of as a whole," said Dr. Karsten Suhre, a professor of physiology and biophysics at WCMC-Q, who worked with partners at European institutions to create the map.

"To treat a disease, such as diabetes or cancer, if you want to change the levels of a certain metabolite, the map would tell you which to target, but it would also tell you which other metabolites and enzymes surrounding the target would be affected, so that you can select the right combination of drugs in order to reach a desired effect," he said.

Some 7,824 people participated in the study, helping scientists to determine 2.1 million genetic variants in each participant. Through statistical analysis, scientists found that there are 145 genes that significantly affect the body's metabolic capacities.

"Many of the 145 genes we identified are enzymes. Enzymes are there to produce the different metabolites—sugars, fats and amino acids are the building blocks the body needs," Dr. Suhre said. "Genetically, everyone has these enzymes but no one is identical in what concerns their genetic makeup, so we're looking for differences in what an individual's enzymes can do by generating a comprehensive picture of over 400 metabolites for every blood sample we measure."

Explore further: New atlas of molecules paves the way for improved understanding of metabolic diseases

More information: Research paper: www.nature.com/ng/journal/v46/n6/full/ng.2982.html

Related Stories

New atlas of molecules paves the way for improved understanding of metabolic diseases

May 11, 2014
In the most comprehensive exploration of the association between genetic variation and human metabolism, researchers have provided unprecedented insights into how genetic variants influence complex disease and drug response ...

Lifestyle influences metabolism via DNA methylation

September 20, 2013
An unhealthy lifestyle leaves traces in the DNA. These may have specific effects on metabolism, causing organ damage or disease. Scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum München have now identified 28 DNA alterations associated with ...

Study identifies genetic basis of human metabolic individuality

October 26, 2011
In what is so far the largest investigation of its kind, researchers uncovered a wide range of new insights about common diseases and how they are affected by differences between two persons' genes. The results from this ...

Recommended for you

Analytical tool predicts genes that can cause disease by producing altered proteins

July 19, 2018
Predicting genes that can cause disease due to the production of truncated or altered proteins that take on a new or different function, rather than those that lose their function, is now possible thanks to an international ...

Childhood stress leaves lasting mark on genes

July 18, 2018
Kids who experience severe stress are more likely to develop a host of physical and mental health problems by the time they reach adulthood, including anxiety, depression and mood disorders. But how does early life stress ...

Study shows DNA methylation related to liver disease among obese patients

July 18, 2018
DNA methylation is a molecular process that helps enable our bodies to repair themselves, fight infection, get rid of environmental toxins, and even to think. But sometimes this process goes awry.

Protein found to be key component in irregularly excited brain cells

July 17, 2018
In a new study in mice, researchers have identified a key protein involved in the irregular brain cell activity seen in autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy. The protein, p53, is well-known in cancer biology as a tumor ...

World's largest study on allergic rhinitis reveals new risk genes

July 17, 2018
An international team of scientists led by Helmholtz Zentrum München and University of Copenhagen has presented the largest study so far on allergic rhinitis in the journal Nature Genetics. The data of nearly 900,000 participants ...

New platform poised to be next generation of genetic medicines

July 16, 2018
A City of Hope scientist has discovered a gene-editing technology that could efficiently and accurately correct the genetic defects that underlie certain diseases, positioning the new tool as the basis for the next generation ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JVK
1 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2014
Nutrients metabolize to pheromones that control ecological adaptations.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.