A young and dynamic group of Maltese researchers led by their PI, Professor Joseph Borg from the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dept. of Applied Biomedical Science and current President of the Malta Association of Biomedical Scientists (MABS) have now formalised a solid footing on their path to drug discovery. This is intended for patients inflicted with hereditary blood disorders that include Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease. Despite various limitations under the current climate of CoVID19 pandemic, this has not stopped the team from pursuing their ambitious goals passed on from predecessor mentors over the years.
Professor Borg has forged collaborations with two International organisations of high-repute, the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and the EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany.
Through this collaboration, the Maltese group has access to unique animal mouse models to further build on their project, as well as access to hundreds of thousands of unique small molecules for chemical biology research that has already provided some interesting leads as reported in the local media. The group is also working to protect intellectual property and pending patents that will emerge from their research. Professor Borg has thus far attracted funding from the Univ. of Malta research excellence fund, the Take Off Seed Fund Award (TOSFA), and two awards granted by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) - a commercial voucher program that has been successfully completed, and an IPAS award that will see the current post-doctoral researcher Dr Laura Grech attending training visits and participate in workshops held at the Erasmus MC and EMBL. The knowledge and training garnered through these occasions will be transferred to their M.Sc and PhD candidates in the group.
The group works with both clinical patient material from healthy adults, and patients inflicted with hereditary blood disorders. One such disease that is found in the Maltese population includes thalassaemia, a genetic condition which affects the red blood cells and is caused by a lack of oxygen to the blood. The most prominent form of Thalassaemia in the Mediterranean and hence in Malta is the Beta Thalassaemia and the condition is inherited from one parent or both parents, in the most severe form of the condition.
Through the funding and grants awarded thus far, the team is expanding to employ at least two additional members of staff to work on the already established cutting edge research that include genome editing by CRISPR/Cas9 tools, culturing of primary haematopoietic stem cells obtained from patient blood and bone marrow, as well as various next generation sequencing techniques that are presently housed at both Mater Dei Hospital, and the University of Malta.
For more information about the team and their current research program; students and other researchers with an inherent interest for blood research are invited to contact Professor Borg on firstname.lastname@example.org or his post doctoral group led by Dr Laura Grech on email@example.com
More details can be found here: