Space Omics Analysis of the Skin Microbiome of Diabetic Foot Ulcers (SpaceOMIX)

Omics is a rapidly evolving, multi-disciplinary, and emerging field that encompasses genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. Each of these fields offers the possibility to understand and view biology from a global perspective in a way that was previously unthinkable.



SpaceOMIX I is a part of Project Maleth, a project whose research mainly focuses on obtaining results that can facilitate and improve precision-based medicine at treating DFUs more efficiently. Project Maleth is Space Omics Analysis of the Skin Microbiome of Diabetic Foot Ulcers or SpaceOMIX.

In Malta, no study has yet been performed on the microbiome of diabetic foot ulcers and coupled with space bioscience research this is the first of its kind, One of the aims of this study is to determine the full microbiome profile of DFUs in Malta. NGS results conducted on both ground-based and space-based samples are compared with those of conventional culture in order to determine the different types of bacteria that are actually present in infected ulcers, and their resistance to harsh environments. Moreover, by identifying all the bacteria present, one can determine if there are organisms that can be predictors of prognosis. The microbiome of healed ulcers can also be compared to those that didn’t heal, giving an indication of which bacteria may be associated with chronicity.

NASA GeneLab

GeneLab is an open-access, collaborative analysis platform for space bioscience research. GeneLab aims to maximize the research resulting from experiments aboard the International Space Station by collecting and providing access to data from genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomics studies aboard ISS.

Aims & Objectives

In the Ice Cubes #9 – Project Maleth (Space Omics Analysis of the Skin Microbiome of Diabetic Foot Ulcers, or SpaceOMIX) investigation, human skin microbiome samples from selected Type 2 Diabetic patients with diabetic foot ulcers resistant to treatment are studied as part of the first-ever Maltese space investigation on the International Space Station (ISS)—making it Malta’s first ever mission to space. The microbiome is co-cultured on both ground-based (analog) and space-based conditions to determine their adaptation and changes to the environment. All samples are analysed in a multi-omic manner using state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques, and all data is to be deposited as part of the NASA GeneLab database.

ISS Science for Everyone

​In collaboration with the science community, GeneLab helped launch the International Standards for Space Omics Processing (ISSOP) consortium. The ISSOP is a global consortium of scientists from around the world to develop, share, and encourage sample processing standardization and metadata normalization of spaceflight omics experiments.

The effects of spaceflight, microgravity and solar radiation are pervasive and wide ranging. We utilize the ISS and take advantage of the unique space environment to make advances in a wide range of disciplines in not only life sciences, but also physical sciences, technology development, remote sensing, and education.


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Malta is sending its very first space bioscience experiment entitled SpaceOMIX as a first mission under the Maleth Program. The mission is contracted by NASA and will be flown by SpaceX using the Cargo Dragon C208.


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