RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Morrisville-based Metabolon, a metabolomics data and insights company, will work with two major medical centers in Boston to study the biology underlying lactation for better maternal and infant health.
The company will perform metabolomics analysis of breast milk from mothers and plasma samples from mothers and their babies in a first-of-its-kind Lactation Lab in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).
“Metabolon’s data will enable the identification of the metabolomic signatures of mothers and infants following birth and through the breastfeeding period, providing data to identify key biochemicals that may be crucial for improving the health of both the mother and baby,” said Patricia Sheridan, Ph.D., associate director of biological development at Metabolon.
In the short term, the Lactation Lab aims to generate fundamental knowledge required for new interventions to improve maternal and infant health outcomes. Longer term, the Lab will provide a model for discovery in the field of lactation science, bringing much-needed scientific rigor to investigations during lactation, a critical period that influences the lifelong health of two generations.
Metabolon will work with Sarbattama Sen, M.D., a neonatologist and researcher in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Camilia Martin, M.D., director of clinical-translational research in the Department of Neonatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“Over 60% of U.S. women are unable to achieve their lactation goals, and the variability in human breastmilk has been understudied,” said Sen. “Leveraging techniques such as metabolomics will be critical to moving forward the field of lactation science and optimizing care for every mother and infant.”
Research has shown that longer breastfeeding duration can decrease post-partum weight retention and metabolic problems while also decreasing the possibility of post-partum depression and rates of breast and ovarian cancer.
“Detailed characterization of human milk coupled with clinical outcomes will identify important pathways in health and disease for both mother and infant,” said Martin. “These findings will catalyze new areas of research on previously unrecognized metabolites that are important for health outcomes.”
Metabolon’s collaboration with the two medical centers is part of 11 independent projects that are receiving funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which is contributing $8.3 million in capital programs to support innovation and cross-sector collaboration to address pressing life science challenges in women’s health.
Metabolomics is the large-scale study of all small molecules in a biological system. It helps researchers see beyond the genetic variation of individuals by capturing the combined impact of genetic and external factors, such as the effect of drugs, diet, lifestyle and the microbiome on human health.
By measuring thousands of discrete chemical signals that form biological pathways in the body, metabolomics can reveal important biomarkers that can enable understanding of a drug’s mechanism of action, pharmacodynamics, safety profile, and individual response to therapy.
Over the last 20 years Metabolon has worked on more than 10,000 projects with 1,300 clients throughout the life sciences. Its Precision Metabolomics Platform has enabled the development of the world’s largest proprietary metabolomics reference library.
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