NOV 24, 2015 1:21 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
JUL 13, 2020
Neuroscience
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
JUL 13, 2020
Can COVID-19 Be Diagnosed by Vocal Patterns?
Researchers from the Lincoln Laboratory have found early evidence that subtle changes in peoples' voices may indicat ...
JUL 19, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Study Finds Turmeric has Antiviral Effects
JUL 19, 2020
Study Finds Turmeric has Antiviral Effects
Researchers from the Wuhan University of Engineering in China have found that curcumin, a natural compound found in turm ...
SEP 24, 2020
Plants & Animals
Cuvier's Beaked Whale Sets New Diving Record
SEP 24, 2020
Cuvier's Beaked Whale Sets New Diving Record
Marine mammals are uniquely adapted to dive to incredible depths. New research from Duke University Marine Laboratory do ...
OCT 09, 2020
Plants & Animals
Humpback Whales Thriving in NYC Waters
OCT 09, 2020
Humpback Whales Thriving in NYC Waters
Over the past decade, humpback whales have become increasingly common in waters known as the New York-New Jersey Bight. ...
OCT 22, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
OCT 22, 2020
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
Nuclear fusion is the frontier of energy research, and NASA has a plan to bring this state-of-the-art power source to th ...
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
Loading Comments...