Scientists at the University of Wisconsin successfully grew a vocal cord using cadaver tissue. Scientists have made promising breakthroughs in the world of bioengineering, successfully growing human kidneys, a mini-brain, and a limb. On Wednesday, a new body part worthy of talk was unveiled: vocal chords.
image/text credit: Wochit News
The paper, published in Science Translational Medicine, shows how University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers bioengineered vocal chord tissue from a cadaver. The tissue, which closely resembles real vocal chord tissue, is even capable of transmitting sound. Dr. Nathan Welham, an associate professor of surgery at UW and a speech pathologist, touched on the significance of the discovery.
To test it out, the team transplanted the bioengineered tissue onto one side of larynges taken from deceased dogs. When air was pushed through these larynges, the vocal cords made sound, and high-speed imaging showed that the artificial tissue was vibrating just like a natural vocal cord.
The researchers believe that it may be possible to generate a variety of synthetic vocal cords which can be used “off the shelf” for transplant operations to suit the individual needs of different patients who cannot speak. Some people lose their voices permanently when their vocal cords have to be removed due to cancer surgery or another type of injury.