10 January 2020
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The strength of collaboration between biobanks

Researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam discovered that the level of specific blood metabolites is heritable and that part of the heritability is explained by known genetic variants. Lead investigator Fiona Hagenbeek used data collected within BBMRI for twin families of the Netherlands Twin Register. The results were published in Nature Communications.

Metabolites are substances in the body produced during metabolism (digestion or other bodily chemical processes). These small molecules are at the center of attention as they play an important role in complex diseases. Studies of the BBMRI consortium showed that different metabolites correlated with diseases such as depression, migraine, diabetes but also cognition. Therefore, it is crucial want to have a better understanding of factors that influence metabolite levels, for instance heritability.

Hagenbeek explains that metabolites can provide leads for new biomarkers and more insight into the relation between genotype and disease or health. “Our new knowledge about the heritability of metabolites, brings the use of metabolite patterns as biomarker a step closer.”

The article in Nature Communications summarizes 10 years of genetic association studies to metabolites. It shows the power and importance of large-scale collaboration between different biobanks in the Netherlands in BBMRI and the strength of combining data from twin-studies with omics-data.

The metadata of 10 years of metabolite genetic association studies are accessible for anyone, via the BBMRI – omics atlas.