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Engineered Vocal Cords

December 2, 2015

Scientists have reverse-engineered functional vocal cords in the lab.



Lab-grown vocal cords. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If our vocal cords become damaged, scar tissue can keep them from vibrating, which impairs speech. But now, scientists led by the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s Changying Ling, report in Science Translational Medicine that they’ve created bioengineered vocal cords. UCLA School laryngologist Jennifer Long explains that they harvested two types of cells from human vocal cords, shaping them into vocal folds with a scaffolding of collagen. After the growing these vocal cords, or “faux-cal” cords in the lab, the scientists and put them to the test.

JENNIFER LONG (UCLA School of Medicine):

They were able to show vibration that was very close to normal. They also did an acoustic analysis of the sound that was produced, and again, found sound quality that was quite close to normal.


Long notes in Science magazine that engineered vocal cord implants for people are still a few years away. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.