Dr Schaer, the internationally renowned producer of gluten-free products based in Italy’s South Tyrol, has agreed to finance a three-year University of Malta study to determine the frequency of coeliac disease in the adult Maltese population, using a point-of-care testing kit. The study will also focus on faecal microbiota composition in newly-diagnosed coeliac patients.
During the study, a random cohort of healthy adults aged between 18 and 50 will be screened for the disease and asked to answer a validated questionnaire related to gastrointestinal symptoms.
A random cohort of healthy adults aged between 18 and 50 will be screened for the disease and asked to answer a validated questionnaire related to gastrointestinal symptoms
Testing for coeliac disease will initially be done through the testing kit. This has the advantage that an immediate result can be given to the patient. If the test result is positive, further testing will be performed, which will include an endoscopic procedure and stool testing to assess the microbiota. The latter will be done in conjunction with the University of Kiel, Germany.
Gastroenterologist Dr Pierre Ellul from the University of Malta’s Faculty of Medicine and Surgery will supervise the project, which will form part of a PhD study by gastroenterologist Dr Martina Sciberras.
The agreement was made through the University of Malta’s Research, Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT) which was set up in 2011 to attract funds from private and corporate bodies to be used to foster the commercial exploitation of the university’s research portfolio. Dr Schaer will donate €41,000 towards the project through the RIDT, which funds will cover the cost of the testing kits and related expenses.
RIDT CEO Wilfred Kenely said: “We first started talking to Dr Schaer around a year ago, in the middle of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is very encouraging to note that even in such difficult circumstances, we managed to establish such an important collaboration which will no doubt shed more light on the situation of Coeliac disease in the Maltese population.”
Dr Schaer CMO Hansjörg Prast emphasised his company’s focus on research and innovation: “We strongly believe that in order to keep developing new solutions that address specific nutritional challenges, we need to keep investing in research and innovation, and we need to be close to the consumer and the scientific world according to one of our values, proximity. This population study, combined with market- intelligence data, provides
important information about coeliac disease and gluten-free diet, which will also help the scientific world to understand the disease better.”
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