Multidimensional Metallomic Imaging (MMI) for Environmental Hazard Analysis
The field of metallomics takes an integrated approach to understand the metallobiochemistry of cells and organisms by utilising analytical tools to decipher the biological roles and/or adverse effects of metals over both time and space. Every cell utilizes a remarkably diverse range of metals and metalloids employing them to support most molecular functions including elemental building blocks of proteins, enzyme co-factors and inter and intra-cellular signalling molecules. The significance of the metallome has yet to be fully appreciated nor their interdependent roles in critical biological processes understood. What is clear is that disfunction in metallo-trafficking results in clinical disorders whilst conversely many disease states result in imbalance of these essential micronutrients. The dose-range from deficiency to excess, the ‘biological window’ of trace metals is narrow, which often turns essential elements into lethal toxicants for species living in environments, which have been metal-enriched by human activity. Anthropogenic environments are also enriched in non-essential elements, some of which produce toxicity by mimicking essential metals. It is therefore not surprising that in spite of threats from thousands of emerging chemicals, metals remain some of the most problematic environmental contaminants worldwide and in the UK.