The Cellular Interactions and Development research unit is interested in defining the cellular and molecular mechanisms that control bone homeostasis. This dynamic physiological phenomenon, which ensures that bone tissue is constantly remodelled throughout the life of vertebrates, is based on the balance between bone formation and resorption. Bone formation is controlled by osteoblasts, which are mesenchymous cells, and bone-tissue resorption is controlled by osteoclasts, which are produced by the monocyte-macrophage hematopoietic cells. When that balance is disrupted, major diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopetrosis (Albers-Schönberg disease) may develop.
Using genetics, genomics and molecular biology, the research unit has been able to characterize a number of genes involved in these diseases in mice and humans. At the cellular level, the team is studying the role of signal transduction pathways, specifically the role of certain phosphatase proteins in these mechanisms. These studies will prove useful in characterizing biomarkers and defining therapeutic targets to be used with patients.