NOV 24, 2015 01:21 PM PST

Lab-Grown Vocal Cords Can "Talk"

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

When we speak, sing, or yell, the sounds that we produce come from the vibration of two flexible bands of muscles that make up our vocal cords. These delicate, mucus-coated muscles vibrate at hundreds of times per second to give us our unique sounds. But about 20 million people suffer from vocal impairment, either temporary or permanent. For these millions of people, artificial lab-grown vocal cords may one day give them back their voice.

The process of growing vocal cords in a lab began with rare donations of actual vocal tissues from one deceased donor and four patients whose larynges were removed for non-cancerous reasons. From these donated tissues, the researchers grew up two types of cells on a 3-D collagen scaffold. After 2 weeks, the cells took on a structure that resembled human vocal cords in both shape and elasticity.

After attaching the lab engineered vocal cords to a sound simulation apparatus, i.e. an artificial windpipe, the team heard a buzzing sound "like a kazoo." This suggests the artificial vocal cords can function in a similar manner as the biological one, vibrating and producing sounds that could be a voice.

The research is still in its developmental stages and many more trials are needed before a vocal cord transplant can be a reality.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 19, 2019
Health & Medicine
OCT 19, 2019
The Human Placenta is Bacteria-Free
A research team from the University of Cambridge has finally answered a heavily disputed question about the presence or absence of a microbiome in the huma...
OCT 19, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 19, 2019
These Animals Are Among the Deadliest in the United States
It’s no secret that some animals are more deadly than others, and chances are, you’d be able to guess a few of them. An estimated 400 people di...
OCT 19, 2019
Cardiology
OCT 19, 2019
Heart Related Fatalities On The Rise
Recently published in JAMA, a new study sought to investigate national trends in deaths resulting from cardiometabolic disease. The study looked at cardiom...
OCT 19, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 19, 2019
These Hippos Have Found a Naturally Existing Spa
Hippos are large and captivating creatures; in fact, they can be so hazardous that researchers keep a safe distance, deploying spy cameras in their place t...
OCT 19, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 19, 2019
Artificial "Bug Eyes" Made of Nanoparticles and Liquid Marbles
The term compound eye refers to the unique visual organs that can be found in many insects (hence the nickname "bug eyes"), as well as certain sp...
OCT 19, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 19, 2019
How Astronomers Determine the Universe's Age
The universe is so old and so large that the Earth is but an insignificant speck of dust by comparison. Astronomers are always trying to make sense of the...
Loading Comments...