Development and application of extended steroid profiling to clinical practice: a metabolomic approach

Metabolomics aims to identify and quantify all metabolites in a biological system. Metabolomics is a powerful approach to improve early detection of diseases, diagnosis and prognosis. Among the numerous biological compartment that can be evaluated, screening of steroids as disease biomarkers is an emerging area with numerous applications. Current advances allow an efficient simultaneous quantification of extended steroid panel. Steroids function in human metabolism as signaling molecules and gene expression regulators, affecting multitude of physiological processes. They are known to play a critical role in multiple disorders and diseases, such as prostate cancer. Determining highly sensitive and specific steroid precursors and bioactive steroids can be carried out in non-invasive biofluids (i.e. serum or urine). This proposal is aimed to exchange the expertise between the Swiss and Russian research teams to improve and expand a clinical human steroid metabolomics profiling.

The Swiss team will be led by members of the Biomedical and Metabolomics Analysis group at the Université de Genève (UNIGE). The Swiss team has extensive experience in innovation of instrumentation and analytical strategies, in biomedical and toxicological metabolomics analysis, as well as in data analysis. Prof. Serge Rudaz, Head of the group and President of the Swiss Metabolomics Society, is developping new analytical strategies for targeted and untargeted metabolomics and specializes in the analysis of low molecular weight compounds including steroids.

The Russian partner will be led by members of the Laboratory of Pharmacokinetics and Metabolomic Analysis, Institute of Translational Medicine and Biotechnology at I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, the oldest medical school in Russia founded in 1758. The Russian team has experience employing metabolomic profiling in drug assessment, forensic toxicology, prostate cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, among others.

The proposal is aimed to exchange the expertise from both teams with an emphasis to further develop and apply an extended steroid profiling and quantification in clinical research. Exchange of expertise will be focused on a) method development and validation of metabolomic approaches, including analytical protocols, b) application of steroid metabolomics in clinical practice and c) improvement of analysis and interpretation of experimental data.

The extended steroid profiling is intended to be used for investigation of diseases, including prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is a field of expertise of the Russian team and of great interest within the framework of the Swiss Center of Applied Human Toxicology (SCAHT).

Furthermore, this approach could be also applied to investigation in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. Sechenov University in Moscow has available COVID-19 positive samples in a biobank, being an opportunity to contribute to further understanding the disease at the level of biomarker discovery in COVID-19 associated sepsis, pneumonia and infection.

Finally, this proposal is aimed to improve training of young researchers and to open opportunities to students from both countries. It is also expected to impact the chances for future collaborative grants. Specific scientific exchange will include visits both in Moscow and Geneva, the preparation of publications together and collaborative work on data analysis and interpretation.


University of Geneva:

I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University: