What are lipids?

Lipids are molecules essential for life as no living organism can survive without them.

They are one of the most structurally diverse classes of metabolites assembled from basic chemical "modules" to form higher structures. Lipids are important structural components of cell membranes and define the boundaries of different subcellular organelles. In every cell, lipids also play an important role in energy storage and signalling either on the cellular or organism level. Due to their inherent structural diversity and the fact that they have always existed at the interface between an organism and its environment, lipids have evolved with each organism to fit its environment and energy requirements. 

This lipid evolution not only presents itself in major differences between archaea, bacteria and eukaryotes but also within any species. Even in our daily life, lipids exist in a wide range of products; from everyday products such as soap, lotions, shampoos and beauty products to allternative energy fuel such as biodiesel. Due to their hydrophobic nature, different lipids can serve as coating agents, lubricants, water-proof leather processing and surfactants. Lipids give different fatty food its flavour and cooking oil is another lipid on every table in the world.

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Why Lipids?

Why are lipids important?
The lipid revolution

We live in an era of individualized economy products. Solutions are being created not for the masses but to match the individual need. This ranges from personalized ads on webpages, individualized Facebook or Google recommendations up to personalized treatment schemes and therapies in areas such as a cancer and immunology.

Different types of lipids exist

Although hundereds of thousands lipids potentially exist in nature, lipids can be classified based on the composition of their chemical "modules" into eight different categories; fatty acyls are the simplest class of lipids that contains fatty acids and fatty acid conjugates. Glycerolipids are formed by adding one, two or three fatty acids to a glycerol backbone forming mono-, di- and triglycerides.

Lipidomics technology
(the hard science)

Lipids are one of the most structurally diverse classes of metabolites and lipidomics is the emerging technology that captures this diversity by identifying and quantifying the different lipids species in any particular sample. Lipidomics has already been proven very powerful to identify several candidate diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in metabolic, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.