Human Metabolomics at the North-West University
The objectives of the Focus area - Human Metabolomics (FAHM) are to:
be nationally/internationally recognized for its outstanding metabolomics research contribution towards health/disease characterization; and
to commercialize its expertise within the innovative framework of the North-West University (NWU) through its association with the Centre for Human Metabolomics (CHM) and the National Metabolomics Platform (NMP).
CHM, in cooperation with the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), hasset out to meet the demands of the Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources sector through passion, innovation, and analyticalservices which employ state-of-the-art LC, GC and NMR methods.
The NMP (commercial platform of CHM) fulfils a niche in the South African Health sector by providing effective and efficient metabolomic analytical services (metabolomics), which areinternationally competitive.
The services offered by the NMP can be found by clicking here.
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In order to bridge the innovation chasm between R&D of institutions, businesses and commercialization, the NMP has not only diversified its portfolio,but also contributed to the intervention strategy of TIA and the Department of Science and Technology (DST). As such, the NMP provides a meaningful contribution to the development and trans-disciplinary implementation.
Contrarily, FAHM offers a combination of metabolomics analyses and analytical expertise as part of collaborative partnershipsand has an extensive infrastructure, including sufficient office space, wet chemistry laboratories, sample storage and analytical facilities. The recently built NMP has dramatically increased the FAHM infrastructure and analytical capacity, at no additional expense to the FAHM or NWU. Current specialized analytical equipment includes:15x GC-EI-MS, 2x GC-EI-TOFMS, 2x GCxGC-TOFMS, 2x LC-UV, GC Ion trap, Ion PGM, LC-ESI-MS/MS, 3x LC-ESI-MS/MS, LC-ESI-QTOF, LC-ESI-TOF, LC-ESI-trap, NMR, Ion torrent S5 sequencer and Seahorse analyser.
A custodian expert analyst is allocated to each of these to ensure optimal utilization/maintenance of the apparatus as it is a key component in the generation of high-quality data. Numerous validated/accredited methodologies, including:
Untargeted (GCxGC-TOFMS and NMR)
Semi-targeted (selection of free fatty acids, long chain fatty acids, organic acids, acylcarnitines and amino acids) are offered as routine metabolomics analyses and are standardised for almost any sample matrix (blood, urine, tissue, sputum, cell cultures, plant, skin secretions, CSF etc.). This is one of our major strengths and contributors to our success, as it allows for a more holistic/comprehensive approach to our analytical research.
Three of the individuals that are particularly involved in these entities include Prof. Du Toit Loots, Dr. Aurelia A. Williams and Prof. Chris Vorster.