In recent years metabolomics – the comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analysis of all low and intermediate molecular weight compounds in a given biological system – has gained importance in nutritional sciences as a tool for assessing diet effects on human metabolism as well as for identification of the modes of action of individual constituents of the diet – either nutrients or non-nutrient components of foods.

One of the prime challenges in nutritional sciences is that, in contrast to pharmaceutical research with mostly one well known agent, nutrition always influences the functions of multiple factors which mostly generate subtle changes and are difficult to analyse. Although some studies have been published that address effects of nutrition on the metabolome in humans, surprisingly, the basal state of a healthy individual, intra- and interindividual variations of metabolite profiles or metabolic phenotypes of food responses have never been thoroughly investigated. This led to the design of a human metabolome (HuMet) pilot study with the aim of assessing these metabolic differences in healthy human volunteers.

This study is at the same time the first joint project of the Munich FUNCTIONAL METABOLOMICS Initiative, which is represented by a consortium of scientists from academia and industry. They are dedicated to promote metabolomics research at all levels of complexity. The group unifies experts from analytics, structural biology, biochemistry, food chemistry, human nutrition, eco-toxicology and bioinformatics who study metabolites for the sake of understanding their structure, their concentrations, their interdependence and their dynamics in biological systems.

The samples generated in the HuMet study are submitted to all analytical platforms available in the consortium for the most comprehensive analysis.