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New technique to study the metabolism

23 Feb 17

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A study published this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie presents a new methodology that uses Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to study cell metabolism.

The technology was developed by scientist Òscar Yanes in the Metabolomics Platform, a facility created by the Univeristat Rovira i Virigili (URV) in Tarragona (Spain) and CIBERDEM, with the collaboration of IRB Barcelona group leader Travis Stracker and former PhD student Suvi Aivio. 

The tool makes it possible to monitor metabolic fluxes more quickly than previous methods. In just 10 minutes it can provide dynamic information about a considerable number of key metabolites. It could be used in the future to augment existing technologies in order to help understand the biology of cancer and metabolic diseases.

Stracker and Yanes strengthened their collaboration in 2015 after Yanes was named Affiliated Member in IRB Barcelona's Molecular Medicine programme. Stracker's lab was investigating the functions of an uncharacterized mitochondrial protein that appeared to alter cancer cell metabolism.

They consulted with Òscar Yanes to perform some analysis to track the use of different carbon sources, glucose and glutamine, to generate important metabolites. "This requires a highly specialized technique that is both expensive and time consuming, but it is also very informative and few facilities around the world are able to do this well", explains Stracker.

Suvi Aivio prepared the samples for analysis that were used to develop the technique. "It provided us with important information for our own study and we will feature it in a future publication", states the IRB Barcelona researcher Travis Stracker.

Maria Vinaixa, first author of the study, and Òscar Yanes, explain that with this methodology “we exploit the full power of NMR in terms of its sensitivity and coverage of the metabolome”, they conclude.

More information:

Link to Angewandte Chemie

Link to full press release by URV (English)

Link to Gaceta Médica (Spanish)

About IRB Barcelona

Created in 2005 by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) and University of Barcelona, IRB Barcelona is a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, a seal that was awarded in 2011. The institute is devoted to conducting research of excellence in biomedicine and to transferring results to clinical practice, thus improving people’s quality of life, while simultaneously promoting the training of outstanding researchers, technology transfer, and public communication of science. Its 27 laboratories and eight core facilities address basic questions in biology and are orientated to diseases such as cancer, metastasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and rare conditions. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 employees and more than 30 nationalities. It is located in the Barcelona Science Park. IRB Barcelona is a CERCA center, and a member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).