Extensive lab research and testing has come with some amazing results in the area of lab-grown human tissues. An artificial voice box could replace your own, someday, thanks to some amazing growing techniques and, of course, a state-of-the art three-dimensional printer.
When it comes to soothing lullabies or heart-thumping rock rhymes, the voice, or rather the apparatus that is capable of producing sounds, in different amplitudes, is always taken for granted. From communication, to singing and screaming and laughing, the voice box, or rather the vocal cords, is the most complex formation in the human body, apart from the brain itself.
The new vocal cord fold, created in a test tube, so to speak, could eventually help millions of people, out there, that suffer from voice impairments such as laryngitis or even cancerous tumors. Those who have been diagnosed with cancer are usually scheduled for immediate surgery and ultimately end up with their voice cords removed. An artificial voice box could be just the thing to get them yammering again.
The prestigious team of scientist, that managed to grow the tissue, are from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. One of the researched, by the name of Doctor Nathan Welham, expressed his opinions towards the experiment’s rate of success. He even stressed out that the experiment itself is deemed a medical breakthrough, given the fact that the tissue forming the vocal cords is subjected to some rather intense biomechanical demands.
For those who are unaware, the popular “vocal cords” also known as vocal folds, are situated in your larynx, near the sphere-like formation, commonly known as Adam’s apple.
To start with, the team has harvested some tissue from a couple of patients that had their fold removed. Also, the team managed to get some additional tissue from a human cadaver. They looked for two types of cells for their experiment.
After harvesting the necessary “materials”, the team stuck them in a 3D scaffolding and began growing them. 14 days later, the tissue grew and had the exact properties of human tissue. But now comes the tricky part. Will the make-shift voice-yammer actually work? They had to find a way to test the new vocal folds, so they set up another lab experiment, most likely being inspired by Frankenstein’s setup.
They harvested a larynx from a large dog and attached a windpipe, made from plastic. Warm air was blown through the toy windpipe in order to simulate breathing. As the team explained, dog’s voice boxes and human voice boxes are very similar. So, what they did was to remove a voice fold from the dog’s larynx and replace it with a lab-grown one.
The experiment itself was deemed a total success. After they blew air through the wind pipe, the whole set-up started to vibrate and even made a buzzing sound. Although the sound lacks in complexity, due to the fact that the human voice is modulated by using our tongue, teeth, lips and hard palate.
Welham expressed his high hopes towards the experiment and said that, one day, an artificial voice box could replace your own.