Research aims to develop world's first lipid database for healthy persons

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A new international research consortium, led by the National University of Singapore (NUS), aims to develop the world's first lipid database for healthy persons of different racial and ethnic groups.

Using the database, scientists and researchers hope to better understand the healthy and unhealthy "fat" levels in people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. This knowledge will pave the way for medical professionals to leverage such key information as diagnostic markers for their patients in future.

The Lipidomic Natural Variation (L-NAVA) consortium is founded by the Singapore Lipidomics Incubator (SLING) at NUS. Other founding members include South Korea's Graduate School of Analytical Science and Technology (GRAST) at Chungnam National University, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, a medical research institute located in Melbourne, Australia; and Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), who is L-NAVA's preferred technology partner.

Using methodology created by SLING, the teams at GRAST and Baker IDI will undertake similar studies in their domestic markets; the results will be compiled into a database. SLING had recently concluded a study of 360 healthy subjects from three major ethnic groups - Chinese, Indians and Malays - in Singapore. Through that study, SLING was able to identify the upper and lower limits of the normal fat levels for healthy people in the three different groups.

The lipid information (L-NAVA) will be integrated with glycomic (G-NAVA) and proteomic (P-NAVA) studies, to provide insight in 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." He is also a faculty member at the Department of Biochemistry at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at NUS and Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science.

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

Principal investigators in the L-NAVA consortium are Associate Professor Markus Wenk, Professor Hyun Joo An, Head of Department at GRAST, Associate Professor Peter Meikle, Head of Metabolomics at Baker IDI and Dr. Rudolf Grimm, Agilent's Director of Science and Technology and Manager of Collaborations in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Lipidomics has the potential to deliver significant new advances in medicine," said Professor Meikle. "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 happy to be a founding member of this international consortium for lipidomics research," said Professor An. "Although we have been focusing on the natural variation on serum glycoproteins to predict disease, we believe that the variation of glycans on lipid molecules can play a critical role in helping the scientific community gain deeper insights into the biological aspects of life. Our team at Asia Glycomics Reference Site is keen and ready to expand our research to lipidoglycomics, as glycolipids are closely involved in the development of neurons and their aging. This is a diversified yet interesting field that will benefit the global scientific and even medical communities."  

All members of the consortium use Agilent's industry-leading triple quadrupole LCMS system with ion funnel (iFunnel) technology in their lipidomics research. The Agilent iFunnel technology offers scientists and researchers the highest sensitivity and detection levels in their quest for scientific breakthroughs.

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