Fingerprints as a marker of your unique identity could soon be obsolete, for scientists have now found that people have another defining trait that may distinguish them from the rest of the human population—a metabolic fingerprint.
In the study, the researchers have reported evidence of the existence of unique patterns in metabolism in humans.
Metabolism is a whole caboodle of chemical processes, which the body uses to turn food into energy, grow, repair damage from diseases and injuries, use medicines, and carry out other functions necessary to continue living.
In the new study, Ivano Bertini and colleagues have detailed growing evidence that each individual has a unique metabolic profile.
The researchers have called it a biochemical counterpart to fingerprints that can be detected by analysing the chemical whorls and grooves that result from metabolism and can be detected in the urine.
The doctors are now planning to use such tests for the early diagnosis of disease and personalized medical care, which could enable them to pick drugs and treatments that are best for each individual, rather than today's one-size-fits all medicine.
But, to accomplish this, doctors need evidence that the metabolic fingerprint remains stable over a period of years, with changes due to disease or medications, for instance, but not advancing age or other factors.
The new study provides that evidence, based on the analysis of over 1,800 urine samples from people monitored for 2-3 years.
Thus, the researchers could identify individual patients from their metabolic profiles with an accuracy of over 99 per cent.
It is believed that the study could pave the way for using metabolic profiling to apply personalized medical care.
The study is scheduled for an upcoming issue of ACS' monthly publication the Journal of Proteome Research.