The temporomandibular joint, which joins the lower part of the jaw to the skull, is a source of pain and dysfunction for the 10 million Americans who suffer from TMJ disorders.

“TMJ problems are very painful, as we use this joint all the time for eating and talking,” says X. Lucas Lu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware. “It’s an important part of daily life, and it’s hard to ignore it when it doesn’t function correctly.”

Lu explains that TMJ disorders, which affect far more women than men, are often associated with cartilage degeneration. Because cartilage has a limited ability to regenerate itself, tissue engineering has become a promising therapeutic strategy for cartilage loss. Read more.