UL research leads to osteoporosis home test

Millions of people will now be able to check their risk of developing osteoporosis with a new over-the-counter test, developed from research originally undertaken in 2004 at University of Limerick.

The Osentia® Osteoporosis screening test, a new clinically-proven, safe and accurate at-home test is now available for the first time initially in the UK.

The test uses the latest screening technology to assess an individuals’ risk of suffering fragility fractures, a common sign of osteoporosis, by analysing a fingernail or toenail clipping and providing results in just seven days.

Osteoporosis, known as the ‘silent disease’ because it has no symptoms and can remain undiagnosed until a bone is fractured, is a major public health concern with large quantities of people attending hospital every year because of a fragility fracture. It is also one of the main causes of hospital stays for women over the age of 45, more so than diabetes, heart attack and breast cancer.

Osentia® is a simple and non-invasive test that only requires a fingernail or toenail clipping and a health questionnaire to be sent to a laboratory for analysis using Raman Spectroscopy laser technology.

Each individual will receive their personal risk of suffering from fragility fractures within seven days highlighting if they are at low, moderate or high risk, along with advice on how to reduce their risk, with an action to speak to their pharmacist or GP for those at moderate or high risk, respectively.

The initial research that led to the development of Osentia® arose out of research collaboration in 2004 between UL’s Materials and Surface Science Institute and the Limerick Regional Hospital (now University Hospital Limerick).

The collaboration led to a discovery by Dr Mark Towler and Prof Declan Lyons which was patented by the UL Technology Transfer Office. The patented discovery paved the way for further refinements by UL campus company, Crescent Diagnostics Ltd now operating in the UK as Crescent Ops Limited.

Speaking about the launch of Osentia® Dr Mary Shire, Vice President of Research indicated, “This is an exciting development and demonstrates how research can positively impact people’s lives. We are proud that this development started at University of Limerick and congratulate all of those involved in the long and hard effort that we know it took to bring this important development to the marketplace”.

Professor Noel O’Dowd, Director Materials and Surface Science Institute, congratulated the team involved in this research.

“This work commenced as a short, speculative, project in 2004. Such research work was made possible by the significant investment in research infrastructure from the HEA’s Programme in Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI). Based on the initial results, significant funding was received from Enterprise Ireland and from venture capital firms which enabled translation of the fundamental scientific work into a commercial product. It is really gratifying to see such a success story and I would like to offer my congratulations to Professor Towler and his research team,” he said.