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Metabolomics promises a holistic phenotypic characterization of biological responses to toxicants. This technology is based on advanced chemical analytical tools with reasonable throughput, including mass-spectroscopy and NMR. Quality assurance, however – from experimental design, sample preparation, metabolite identification, to bioinformatics data-mining – is urgently needed to assure both quality of metabolomics data and reproducibility of biological models. In contrast to microarray-based transcriptomics, where consensus on quality assurance and reporting standards has been fostered over the last two decades, quality assurance of metabolomics is only now emerging. Regulatory use in safety sciences, and even proper scientific use of these technologies, demand quality assurance. In an effort to promote this discussion, an expert workshop discussed the quality assurance needs of metabolomics.
The goals for this workshop were 1) to consider the challenges associated with metabolomics as an emerging science, with an emphasis on its application in toxicology and 2) to identify the key issues to be addressed in order to establish and implement quality assurance procedures in metabolomics-based toxicology. Consensus has still to be achieved regarding best practices to make sure sound, useful, and relevant information is derived from these new tools.
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