Online metabolomics portal launches
An international collaboration between the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and 13 other partners has made large-scale metabolomics analyses easier with the launch of PhenoMeNal (Phenome and Metabolome aNalysis) — an online portal that allows researchers and clinicians to analyse large metabolomics datasets.
Metabolomics is the study of small molecules commonly known as metabolites, which exist in all cells, biofluids, tissues and organs. Metabolites and their concentrations reflect the underlying biochemical activity and thereby the health of cells or tissues; when applied to urine, blood or spinal fluid samples, metabolomics analyses can reveal whether a patient has a specific disease. Metabolomics thus has the potential to become an essential tool for precision medicine.
Now, thanks to three years of community-driven development, and funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, PhenoMeNal is ready to serve its users. For example, researchers can search for patterns in a patient’s data and use the findings to improve the detection of disease and optimise treatment.
“The online portal uses state-of-the-art methods to understand the molecular drivers of health, ageing and disease,” explained Namrata Kale, PhenoMeNal Project Manager at EMBL-EBI. “Researchers require no programming experience to easily and securely analyse patient data. PhenoMeNal enables them to get a better picture of how individual patients differ at a molecular level — this is key for precision medicine.”
PhenoMeNal allows clinicians to perform complex metabolomics analyses in line with privacy and ethics regulations. The portal uses the ELIXIR Authorisation and Authentication Infrastructure, which makes it safe and secure.
“PhenoMeNal has enabled us to streamline our metabolomics data analysis and resolve several computational challenges,” said Kim Kultima, a researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden. “Today, we perform all of our targeted and untargeted metabolomics analyses in computational environments that have been developed within PhenoMeNal. Our latest work, integrating metabolomics data with other types of phenotypic data for improved diagnosis of multiple sclerosis patients, would not have been accomplished without the developments and efforts made within the PhenoMeNal consortium.”
“We would like to encourage researchers working with metabolomics data to explore the PhenoMeNal Gateway, test our robust tools and workflows and send us their feedback using the PhenoMeNal website,” said Kale. “We hope clinical researchers everywhere will make use of this open access portal for metabolomics analysis.”
To access the portal, visit https://phenomenal-h2020.eu/home/.
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