I was recently asked if I could describe any metabolomic discoveries that have made it into the clinic. It could be that metabolomics identified a biomarker for disease or metabolomics was instrumental in identifying a new drug or drug target. You could answer this question quickly by rattling off a few inborn errors of metabolism tests or show results from your recent cholesterol screen. Indeed these tests are using small molecules to identify/predict disease and fit nicely with what metabolomics is all about --- identifying chemical fingerprints left behind by biological processes.
However for the sake of argument, let's say that the biomarker or drug had to come from a study where the word "metabolomics" or something similar (e.g., open metabolite profiling, metabonomics, etc) was used.
The first that comes to mind is sarcosine as biomarker of prostate cancer. When I was a postdoctoral fellow, this study got me excited about the potential of metabolomics and I think might be the first example of a small molecule biomarker identified from a metabolomics study that is now a clinical test. Metabolon in general has made remarkable progress in advancing their metabolomic discoveries into the clinic.
My guess is that as we start focusing more on this concept of precision medicine, clinical labs will begin to add more comprehensive panels to their standard tests. Metabolomic discoveries, perhaps from efforts like the Imperial College Phenome Center, will help drive bench-to-bedside metabolomics as they start to understand how to apply these approaches at the population level.
What other discoveries are out there? What do you think are the hurdles? Please post and contribute to the discussion.