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Metabolite Standards Synthesis Center

SRI is enabling and improving metabolomics research with high-quality reference standards.

Metabolomics research is vital to advances in science and medicine today as investigators look to gain even deeper views into a cell’s chemical processes, and apply those insights to new approaches to identify diseases and discover new treatments. By understanding the changes of metabolites—small molecules transformed as part of biochemical processes—investigators can better correlate the impact of those changes with a cell’s overall health.

Recognizing the importance of metabolomics in research and in enabling breakthroughs, the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) Common Fund established its Metabolomics Program. A critical aim of the program is to expand on existing metabolomics resources and meet the training and needs of investigators across the NIH. The Metabolite Standards Synthesis Center (MSSC) is an integral part of these efforts, and it facilitates access to high-quality reference standards and analytical data. With more reliable, well-established reference standards, researchers can accelerate marker identification and assay validation within cells.

Unlike genes and proteins, chemical transformations of small molecule compounds form new metabolic products with distinct spectroscopic signatures. The spectroscopic signatures are used to characterize a cell’s biochemical activity. At their core, metabolomics technologies mine the spectral data of a complex mixture of chemical compounds to identify a single chemical metabolite or group of metabolites. Progress in metabolomics depends on

  1. The integrity and quality of archived spectroscopic data for metabolite compounds
  2. Accessibility to chemical standards for metabolite identification, method validation, and quantification

In 2013, SRI was awarded funding to support the NIH’s MSSC research, with the goal of providing investigators with access to high-quality, high-purity reference standards. The project will operate out of SRI’s Menlo Park, California headquarters through 2018, working closely with research partners at the NIH.

Additional partners include the West Coast Metabolomics Center at the University of California, Davis, the Michigan Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Core at the University of Michigan, and the Eastern Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Core at RTI International.

This project has been funded in whole with Federal funds from the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHSN268201300022C.