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
NOV 13, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 13, 2018
Viscoelasticity and Non-Newtonian Fluids
One of these is not like the others: honey, water, ketchup, and blood. The answer? Water, because the other three are all non-Newtonian fluid. When Isaac N...
NOV 17, 2018
Videos
NOV 17, 2018
Using Genetic Research to Improve Animal Conservation and Care
A group of Peters's Angolan colobus monkeys were brought to US zoos from East Africa in the 80s, but little is known about them....
NOV 24, 2018
Videos
NOV 24, 2018
Bats may Hold the Secret to Longevity
Some bats can live for up to 41 years, and many have a very healthy life....
DEC 05, 2018
Videos
DEC 05, 2018
Promising Results From Early Trials of Gene Therapy for Sickle Cell Anemia
More than 90,000 Americans and millions of people around the world have SCA....
DEC 06, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 06, 2018
Rare Uranium Compounds Capable of High-temperature Superconductivity at Near Normal Pressure
Uranium is often associated with nuclear fuel materials, but very soon they could be used to power a new wave of industrial revolution. Scientists from Rus...
DEC 07, 2018
Videos
DEC 07, 2018
The Influence of Genetics on our Future
In recent decades, advances in genetic technologies have changed our world in many different ways....
Loading Comments...