Researchers from the University of Malta will be investigating the underlying genetic factors contributing to osteoporosis in several affected Maltese families. The study will be made possible thanks to the Research Excellence Programme (2020), a €50,000 grant awarded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST).
The team, led by Dr Melissa Marie Formosa from the Department of Applied Biomedical Science at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Centre for Molecular Medicine and Biobanking, together with Ms Chanelle Cilia (PhD student), will be applying latest -omics technologies targeting the entire genome and microRNA to identify disease-causing genetic determinants leading to early-onset idiopathic osteoporosis.
The resulting genetic findings will be tested in the Malta Osteoporotic Fracture Study, a case-control collection of more than 1000 Maltese postmenopausal women, and international research cohorts to confirm the association with osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal phenotypes. This will help in the identification of osteoporosis prediction biomarkers and drug targets accelerating personalised medicine.
Osteoporosis, the commonest type of bone disorder with a high fracture incidence, has a strong genetic background. Individuals with a family history of osteoporosis have an increased risk of inheriting the disorder and have been instrumental in uncovering novel genes that paved the way for recombinant targeted treatment.
Yet, only 5% of the underlying genetic factors have been identified to date, emphasising the need for further research efforts. The wealth of data generated from the GeOM study will widen the knowledge on the genetics of bone pathophysiological processes and pave the way for further follow-up studies, including translational models.
For further information about the GeOM study, kindly contact Dr Melissa Marie Formosa.
Project GeOM was financed by the Malta Council for Science & Technology, for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology, through the Research Excellence Programme.