Skeletal diseases are a diverse and often debilitating group of conditions that affect the bones. They include a broad range of disorders, such as:
These conditions can be extremely painful and cause loss of mobility, which significantly reduces quality of life. While some treatments do exist for these diseases, more research is needed to find new prevention strategies and improved therapies.
Scientists in Van Andel Institute’s (VAI) Center for Cancer and Cell Biology study the full spectrum of bone biology, from the mechanisms that give rise to healthy bone tissue to those that cause disease. They work to translate their findings into new strategies to combat these often tough-to-treat conditions by:
Focus area: Musculoskeletal oncology
Matt Steensma, M.D., studies the genetic and molecular factors that cause benign tumors to become cancers to find vulnerabilities that may be targeted for treatment. As a scientist at VARI and practicing surgeon at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, he is committed to translating scientific discoveries into treatments that improve patients’ lives.
Focus area: Skeletal biology
Tao Yang, Ph.D., studies the signaling systems that govern skeletal stem cells and the role they play in diseases such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Bones are the largest producer of adult stem cells, which mature into cartilage, fat or bone tissue—a process that falters with age. Yang seeks a better understanding of these systems in search of new treatments for degenerative bone disorders and other skeletal aging.