The applications of metabolomics in the molecular diagnostics of cancer

Pro Kit Cheung, Man Hin Ma, Hing Fung Tse, Ka Fai Yeung, Hin Fung Tsang, Man Kee Maggie Chu, Chau Ming Kan, William Chi Shing Cho, Lawrence Bo Wah Ng, Lawrence Wing Chi Chan, Sze Chuen Cesar Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Metabolomics, the study of metabolites, is a promising research field for cancers. The metabolic pathway in a tumor cell is different from a normal tissue cell. There are two approaches to study the metabolism, targeted and untargeted. The general approach is that metabolomic data are interpreted by bioinformatics tools correlating with metabolomic databases to obtain significant findings. With the use of specific analysis tools, such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and mass spectrometer (MS) combined with chromatography, metabolic profile or metabolic fingerprint of various biological specimens could be obtained. The applications of metabolomics are used to discover potential cancer biomarkers and monitor the metastatic state, therapeutic and drug response for better patient management. Areas covered: In this review, the author introduce metabolomics and discuss the use of metabolomics approaches in different cancers, including the study of colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer using NMR and MS. Expert opinion: Knowledge on the molecular basis of cancer metabolism and its potential clinical applications has been improving recently. However, there are still many challenges for the technological development and integration of metabolomics with other omics spaces such as genomics. In the near future, it is expected that metabolomics will play an important role in cancer molecular diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-793
Number of pages9
JournalExpert Review of Molecular Diagnostics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • cancer
  • metabolite profiling
  • Metabolomics
  • molecular diagnostics
  • MS
  • NMR
  • pharmacometabolomics
  • precision medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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