Scientists Grow Vocal Cord In Lab For The First Time Ever

Posted: Nov 19 2015, 3:01am CST | by , Updated: Nov 19 2015, 10:56pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Scientists Grow Vocal Cord in Lab for the First Time Ever
Credit: University of Wisconsin, Madison

The first lab-grown vocal cords have the capability of producing sound. They can potentially help restore voices of those who have lost their vocal cords due to cancer, surgery and other injuries.

Scientists from the University of Wisconsin have made a remarkable breakthrough in the world of bioengineering. They have grown vocal cords in a lab with the capability of producing sound. 

The voice depends on vocal cords, small bands of muscle within the larynx. When these muscles vibrate, they produce voice. Millions of people suffer from voice disorders and these artificial vocal cords can potentially help restore voices of all those people who have been lost their vocal cords due to cancer, surgery and other injuries. 

“Voice is a pretty amazing thing, yet we don’t give it much thought until something goes wrong,” said Dr. Nathan Welham, an associate professor of surgery in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. 

“Our vocal cords are made up of special tissue that has to be flexible enough to vibrate, yet strong enough to bang together hundreds of times per second. It’s an exquisite system and a hard thing to replicate.”

Dr Welham and his colleagues started the experimentation with vocal cord tissue of cadaver dog and four patients who had removed their larynx due to some reason other than cancer. Next, tissue was ‘isolated, purified” and cells were grown from mucous membrane. Then, it was put into 3D Collagen Scaffold which is used for cell cultures and it is similar growing artificial skin in laboratory. 

It took just two weeks to grow cells together and form a tissue which had the flexibility similar to normal, natural tissue.

To see if it actually produces the sound, researches transplanted tissue into mice that has been engineered to human immune systems. The tissue was accepted by the mice and it grew as well, making it usable for transmitting voice. 

The first lab grown tissue is quite close to real thing but certainly it requires more testing of safety and effectiveness to be used in humans.

Source: University of Wisconsin 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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