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ARRA Investments in Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)

Public Health Burden
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) is a chronic facial pain condition that affects approximately 10 million individuals in the United States, the majority of them women during their childbearing ages. TMJD pain may be acute (and resolve with no or minimal treatment) or chronic, lasting three months or longer. The effects can be debilitating and lead to a reduced quality of life. Currently, there are no effective treatments to manage chronic TMJD.

Basic Research
Two basic research challenges include understanding the transition from an acute, short-lived TMJD state to a chronic one and exploring joint replacement as a treatment option.  ARRA funds support both research avenues.
  • A better understanding of the molecular and genetic processes involved in the transition from acute to chronic TMJD is crucial to future treatment and management.  One project is focused on the development of an animal model of temporomandibular joint, allowing researchers to study neuronal cell glutamate receptor activation and the role this activation plays in developing brain stem hypersensitivity associated with chronic TMJD.1
  • Successful replacement of the temporomandibular joint to treat TMJD is an elusive goal that requires engineering of structurally and functionally complex tissues that mimic the physiology of native human tissues.  In one study, the investigators are designing specialized advanced bioreactors, bioactive scaffolds, and fabrication strategies that will allow them to optimize delivery of stem cells and growth factors, in order to produce an anatomically-correct and fully functional human TMJ bone.2

  1. 3R01DE011964-12S1 -- Mechanisms of persistent temporomandibular pain -- Ren, Ke -- (MD
  2. 3R01DE016525-05S1 -- Craniofacial Tissue Engineering -- Vunjak-novakovic, Gordana -- (NY)

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