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article imageWhat's in urine? The contents revealed

By Tim Sandle     Sep 7, 2013 in Science
The first comprehensive analysis of human urine has been undertaken and identifies more than 3,000 metabolites. Each component can be viewed via an online database.
A science team is carrying out a long task of cataloging the complex metabolic compositions of bodily fluids. One part of this process is complete: urine, and the results have been posted online. The database contains everything anyone could possibly want (or need) to know about the composition of the human waste fluid.
The scientists were surprised by the vast number of chemical components in urine. David Wishart from the University of Alberta is quoted by Popular Science as saying: "Urine is an incredibly complex biofluid. We had no idea there could be so many different compounds going into our toilets."
The exercise does have a useful purpose for studying the metabolome (the individual constituents of a chemical) provides valuable information. In the case of urine, this provides a starting point to understand the range of environmental factors affect human health. For understanding many illnesses, urine can be a useful 'diagnostic biofluid'. Illnesses that can be revealed through urine testing include genetic disorders, renal conditions, and some types of cancer.
For this latest analysis, published in the journal PLOS One, the researchers drew upon an array of scientific techniques: nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gas and liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry.
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