Agilent provides LC-MS systems for new lipid consortium

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Agilent Technologies has become the preferred technology partner for a new international research consortium aiming to develop the world’s first lipid database for healthy persons of different racial and ethnic groups.

Scientists are beginning to realise that lipids play a critical role in the normal functioning of the human body, with abnormal lipid synthesis and metabolism linked to a wide range of diseases including cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders and infectious diseases. Historically, however, lipids have tended to be overshadowed by proteins and nucleic acids, partly because of a lack of analytical techniques for studying lipids. Now, the development of highly sensitive liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) systems by companies such as Agilent is beginning to change all that.

One consequence of this increased interest in lipids is the recent establishment of the Singapore Lipidomics Incubator (SLING), the world’s first centralised lipidomics programme for collaborative research, by the National University of Singapore (NUS). SLING is the founding member of the new consortium, called the Lipidomic Natural Variation consortium. Other members include the Graduate School of Analytical Science and Technology at Chungnam National University in South Korea and the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia. As the consortium’s technology partner, Agilent will provide the members with its highly sensitive quadrupole LC-MS system with ion funnel technology for their research activities.

The database being developed by the consortium will help scientists understand the healthy and unhealthy ‘fat’ levels in people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, potentially allowing them to identify lipid-based biomarkers for disease. The lipid information in the database will also be integrated with glycomic and proteomic studies to provide insights into natural variation within glycans and proteins as well.

‘Understanding natural variations is a major aim of SLING,’ said associate professor Markus Wenk, director of SLING. ‘This network allows us to extend, and hopefully connect, our studies on lipids with others that address variability at the level of genes, proteins and sugars. Doing this in healthy individuals will provide a broad, foundational basis relevant for a better understanding of onset of diseases.’

‘Lipidomics has the potential to deliver significant new advances in medicine,’ said Peter Meikle, head of metabolomics at Baker IDI. ‘These include being able to predict a person’s risk of disease, understanding what causes that disease and being able to monitor and adjust treatments more effectively. However, to achieve these advances we must first understand the natural variation within different ethnic groups. We can then identify more accurately where abnormal lipid metabolism may be contributing to diseases including heart disease and diabetes.’

‘We are honored to be part of this new consortium, supporting its goal to systematically determine lipid profiles across different groups of humans,’ said Rod Minett, general manager, life sciences, South Korea and the South Asia-Pacific region, for Agilent. ‘Agilent’s innovations in bio-analytical instruments will help consortium members in their research on the natural variations using different methods. We hope this resource will help medical professionals provide better-quality care to their patients.’

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