The field of metabolomics has been growing at just an incredible rate. "Explosion" is a term that I've heard more than once or twice. I've been kind of on the outside. Labs I've been in have prepared and sent off samples for metabolomic analysis throughout my career. 5 or 6 years ago, it seemed like you got back chromatograms with 100-200 peaks and about 25-50% of them identified within a reasonable error rate. Now I see chromatograms that are as busy as proteomics LC separations with hundreds of identified compounds identified.
To deal with the many platforms, data files and libraries, a number of options have popped up. This month's issue of the Scientist introduced me to XCMS Online, a free, multi-vendor supported cloud-based analysis program that seems heads and shoulders above what I've seen so far.
The output is visually stunning, seemingly easy to manipulate, and there are sample datasets to manipulate in order to learn the software.
Again, I'm an outsider looking in, but I tell you what -- I'm dreaming of the day that I can do proteomics and metabolomics in one workflow -- the kind of promise that we are seeing with the Compound Discoverer announcement at ASMS. Until then, however, Scripps has provided us with some really nice tools to work with in the meantime.
You can read more about XCMS Online at the Scientist, or check it out for yourself here.