SALT LAKE CITY — ­ Utah-based Nexus CMF announced that it has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with the Mayo Clinic to develop new technology for a partial temporomandibular joint prosthesis.

The temporomandibular joint is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw — mandible — to the temporal bone of the skull, which is directly in front of the ear on each side of the head. The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side enabling chewing, yawning and talking. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control the position and movement of the jaw.

Temporomandibular disorders occur due to problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. Injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint or muscles of the head and neck — such as from a heavy blow or whiplash — can also cause painful disorders.

Other possible causes include, grinding of the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the temporomandibular joint; dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint; the presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis; or stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth.

The patented approach Nexus CMF will implement is for a patient-specific implant that sits flat on the bone to create more freedom of movement for the patient's jaw joint. This design entails surgical reshaping of the bone and is for patients with osteoarthritis where the interpositional disc is displaced or perforated resulting in bone-on-bone contact, explained Andrew Olson, director of sales and marketing at Nexus CMF.

The vast majority of surgical patients are women, although men can suffer from temporomandibular disorders as well, Olson said.

The company will seek to develop this surgical approach, which has undergone a 60-patient study at Mayo prior to its licensing ­using its Patient-Specific TMJ Fossa-Eminence Prosthesis System.

Currently the only medical device company with FDA approval to produce partial temporomandibular joint prostheses, Nexus CMF is also the only company in the United States to manufacture both stock and patient-specific temporomandibular joint prostheses.

"We are thrilled to be able to offer a wide variety of viable prosthesis options that cater to different patient needs and surgical philosophies," Olson said.

The technology was developed by Dr. Eugene Keller and Dr. Kai-Nan An at the Mayo Clinic, along with Dr. Evre Baltalž with Acibadem Hospital Eskisehir in Turkey. Revenue that Mayo receives is used to support its mission of patient care, education and research.


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