Dr. Mildred C. Embree and her team at the Columbia College of Dental Medicine have discovered stem cells that can facilitate the growth of cartilage and repair damaged joints. The fibrocartilage found in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in the jaw bone does not readily regrow or heal itself – hence, researchers worked to manipulate the stem cells that reside in the TMJ to regenerate cartilage and repair the joint.
An Australian periodontist has pioneered a new 3D printing technique that regrows missing gum tissue and jaw bones. Traditionally, bone and tissue replacements are taken from other parts of the body such as the hip or femur. Dr. Ivanovki’s method uses a bioprinter to grow missing tissue from a patient's own cells. This 3D printing alternative is much less invasive than bone replacement, and dramatically reduces the risk of infection or rejection.
Bioengineers from the University of California, San Diego, have identified a mechanism by which stem cell differentiation is regulated by the exertion of mechanical pressure. Using optical tweezers to apply mechanical force to stem cells, the researchers, led by Dr. Yingxiao Wang, observed the release of calcium ions, which are critical in the cellular communication required for stem cell differentiation. Dr. Wang’s team concluded that the forces of a stem cell’s environment, such as the tension inside the jaw, can promote the cell’s maturation into stiff tissue like bone or cartilage.