The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing engineered tissue to treat an increasingly prevalent condition affecting the jaw, Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder. Located on both sides of the jaw, these ball-and-socket joints facilitate rotational and translational movements that enable the mouth to open and close. Facial trauma and stress-induced clenching or grinding of teeth can cause inflammation in these joints and may lead to TMJ disorder, a painful condition that affects more than 10 million Americans. Treatments to correct TMJ disorders cost the United States approximately $32 billion a year. Available clinical repair options provide inconsistent and largely ineffective results. The FDA found that 52 percent of patients who had TMJ replacement surgery between 2004 and 2010 experienced extreme pain that necessitated implant removal within three years. By processing animal tissue to eliminate antigens that cause implant rejection, a University of Florida researcher has developed a treatment for TMJ disc disorder that promises to greatly enhance surgical outcomes.
Improved treatment for TMJ disorder with acellular and cell-seeded options
- Utilizes decellularized joints from pigs or other animals, replicating normal human jaw function
- Provides for both acellular and cell-seeded implants, boosting the number of available treatment options
- Mimics the function of a healthy human joint, reducing pain and the need for subsequent surgeries
- Permits cell seeding with the patient’s native tissue, minimizing the risk of implant rejection
Using a TMJ from a pig or other animal as a starting point, donated tissue is processed to eliminate antigens that cause implant rejection. This processed tissue is acellular, meaning that cells from the original organism have been removed. The acellular tissue can then be used as a direct implant or the patient’s cells can be added to the processed TMJ disc to initiate the restructuring process. In the tissue engineering approach, lasers are used to drill holes in the tissue at specific locations and human cells are added to remodel the tissue so that it regenerates to become part of the patient’s body. This new therapy greatly increases the likelihood that a patient’s body will integrate the TMJ disc to repair the dysfunctional joint.