Engineered vocal cords show promise in animal tests | Science News

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Engineered vocal cords show promise in animal tests

Lab-grown tissue could treat people who have lost voice to surgery, disease

2:00pm, November 18, 2015
illustration of the larynx

HARMONY  Vocal cord tissue grown in the lab vibrates just like tissue in a healthy larynx (illustrated here), a promising sign for people with voice problems. 

Vibrating tissue that hums in tune with normal, human vocal cords has been grown in a lab for the first time.

The bioengineered tissue opens a route to developing new therapies for people who have lost their voice due to surgery or disease. The tissue was tested in dog cadaver organs that house the vocal cords and in mice with humanlike immune systems, University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers report in the Nov. 18 Science Translational Medicine. Not only did the mice accept the lab-grown vocal folds, but the tissue trumpeted a healthy vibrato in the dogs’ larynges, too.

“It was really indistinguishable from normal vocal fold vibration,” says study coauthor Nathan Welham, a speech language pathologist at Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health.

Around 30 percent of Americans have experienced a voice-related issue during their lifetimes,

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