Tissue Grafts Engineered For Joint Replacement

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 suffer from TMJ dysfunction due to congenital disabilities, 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 previous developments that began in 2005 on bioengineering functional cartilage and bone for regenerative medicine and tissue disease models.

The scientists used the Yucatan minipig to establish their TMJ tissue graft reconstruction methodology using the recipients’ 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 the clinically used decellularized bovine bone matrix into the exact geometry of the TMJ being repaired.

They infused this scaffold with bone-forming cells while inducing cartilage formation by compacting a 1-mm thick surface layer of condensed mesenchymal cells. They built the matching bioreactor chamber so that the scaffold fitted tightly into it, like a hand in a glove.

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