Doctor - Assistant: Dr. Apr. K.M. CLAUWAERT


One of the main research interests of Dr. K. Clauwaert goes to the start up of a metabolomics research unit. This research unit fits in with a bigger entity, which integrates proteomics, metabolomics and genomics research in the pharmaceutical/medical field.Metabolomics is an area of functional genomics, which studies changes in the expression of small organic molecules in biological systems. It complements genomics as it provides objective measurements of phenotype, it considers all metabolites of certain biological fraction in an unbiased way.
Metabolomic analysis aims at quantifying and identifying all metabolites at the organ, tissue, cellular or even subcellular level. For most purposes, it is not necessary to quantify absolute amounts but rather the relative ratios of metabolite levels between comparative experiments, such as disease/healthy state, successful/unsuccessful therapy, stressed/unstressed situation,…
Such an analysis involves several steps:

  • Adequate experimental designs allowing subsequent statistical evaluations.
    Exhaustive and reproducible extraction of metabolites without physical or chemical degradation
  • Analytical clean-ups and separations allowing high sample throughput. The analytical measurement will use mass spectrometry, mainly LC/MS(/MS).
  • Data normalization, comparison of normalized data, and relating significant differences in qualitative and relative quantitative information (e.g. normalized to an internal reference compound) to physiological status for elucidation of the causal biochemistry via compound identification.

Quantitative mass spectrometry.

Mass spectrometry has become the method of choice for quantitative bioanalytical work. With the advent of the atmospheric pressure ionization techniques, the application area has even broadened. Quantitative LC-MS of target compounds in biological matrices with full validation of the method is an science on its own. Issues of standardization, fast and efficient sample cleanup and quantitative control over the MS ionization process need meticulous investigation. Such research is conducted for small molecules and will be extrended toward larger biopolymers such as peptides and proteins.

By Dr. K. Clauwaert