Talk again thanks to artificial vocal cords

By Tuesday April 19th, 2016Medicine and Technology, News

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin led by Nathan Welham are working to give the voice back to the people who lost it due to cancer or severe trauma.

To date, the treatments and therapies that help reduce the problem are few, and the only ones that give real results, but that do not solve the problem, are the ones based on synthetic biomaterials such as collagen injections. Science and research keep on improving, and thanks to in-depth studies of biomedical engineering they are obtaining extraordinary results, like this one achieved by researchers at the University of Wisconsin.

The results of the study have been published in the Science Translational Medicine journal, where the process for the realization of real implants was shown. Researchers did not use stem cells, but fibroblasts and epithelial cells taken from a corpse. First, the cells were isolated and purified and then they were implanted on a 3D structure where they continued their growth process.

Two weeks later, the tissue structure excellently passed the viscosity and elasticity tests, and looked like the original sample. After some experiments, it has been proved that the implant appears to be both functional and natural as the original vocal cords and that it is perfectly borne by the human immune system, eliminating the serious problem of rejection.

Welham, doctor and speech therapist, said: “our voice is incredible, but we do not give too much importance to it until something happens. Our vocal cords are made of a special tissue which is flexible enough to allow the vibrations, but also very resistant to beat together hundreds of times per second. It is a very interesting system, but it is also very difficult to replicate”.

We can almost say that these researchers are working to a miracle, but it will take some more years of research and successful experiments before the transplant of these prostheses can be performed.

Cecilia Natale

About Cecilia Natale

Cecilia is a translator. She has a bachelor degree in Intercultural and linguistic communication and a master degree in Specialized translation, both obtained at the University of Bologna – Forlì Branch. She loves travelling, reading, writing and she never gets tired of discovering new places and cultures. She’s from Porto San Giorgio, a small city near the sea in the region Marche, in Italy. After various academic experiences in Barcelona, the city has become her second home.

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