The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which forms the back portion of the lower jaw and connects your jaw to your skull, is an anatomically complex and highly loaded structure consisting of cartilage and bone. About 10 million people in the United States alone suffer from TMJ dysfunction due to birth defects, trauma, or disease. A team of scientists has now bioengineered living cartilage-bone TMJ tissue grafts, precisely matched to the recipient, both biologically and anatomically.
Their most recent study builds upon a long series of their previous developments that began in 2005 on bioengineering functional cartilage and bone for regenerative medicine and tissue models of disease.
The scientists used the Yucatan minipig to establish their methodology for TMJ tissue grafts reconstruction using the recipients’ own cells. The team isolated the stem cells from a small amount of fat obtained from each animal, expanded the cells in culture to obtain a sufficient number for a large graft, and induced them into the cartilage and bone-forming cells. Using imaging-guided fabrication, the researchers shaped a block of clinically used decellularized bovine bone matrix into the exact geometry of the TMJ being repaired.