Osteoporosis and Muscular Atrophy Project (OSMA)

Coordination: Università di Bari (University of Bari)


  • 42 research institutions (Universities, CNR, ISS, IRCCS, ASL)
  • 5 Industries
  • 356 researchers

Osteoporosis and muscular atrophy are two pathologies closely linked and connected to ageing and/or degenerative diseases. About 75 million people are affected in Europe, Japan, and the USA each year. In Italy alone the direct cost for the treatment of the fractures is 860 million euro and up to 2 billion euro if related costs are added on.


Space, because of reduced gravity conditions, produces these same pathologies in normally young people in good health. For this reason microgravity allows us to study osteoporosis and muscular atrophy on healthy and young subjects, therefore separating the aetiology of ageing pathologies. For this reason it is a precious method of study with great possibilities for returns on Earth in daily life.


The objective of this programme is to tackle unresolved problems regarding osteoporosis and muscular atrophy, two pathologies that with incredible similarity are encountered both in adult life and in the astronaut. Part of these studies is aimed at understanding the mechanisms with which gravity controls bone and muscular function. Microgravity is therefore a unique instrument that allows researchers to discriminate between the effects produced by mechanical forces and those due to age or to genetics. This project foresees, beyond the experimentation on various space platforms, the development of simulation campaigns of short-term bed-rest in conjunction with the DCMC project.