28th Mar 2016

Researchers grow new vocal cords from cells

Those that have lost their voice may soon have something to sing about!

Sing Up

A research team from the University of Wisconsin has taken cells from living people and cells from a cadaver and found that when they are assembled just so, the cells enable people to grow new vocal cords/folds.

"Part of the advantage of using an engineered tissue is that we can customize the size of the tissue to fit the defect, and also to fit the size of the vocal fold in the male or female or child that would be the recipient." says Dr. Nathan Welham, who helped to lead this research.

Unsurprisingly, this cell regrowth is not easily accomplished! The tissue "must be soft and pliable enough to be set into vibration by an air stream, propagate a travelling wave across its surface, similar to a wave that moves across a body of water, and also must be strong enough to withstand rapid acceleration and deceleration and repeated impact stress as the tissue vibrates at rates in the hundreds or up to a thousand times per second. There is no other tissue in the human body that is subject to these types of bio-mechanical demand" says Welham.

When blown on as demonstration, the new tissue sounds a bit like a kazoo — an indication that it has the right properties needed to create a voice inside a human larynx!

The team is still testing, they stress, and are currently checking for immunity response.


Vocal Health: Keeping your voice happy and healthy

Research shows that teachers have significantly more voice problems than the rest of the population. Ouch!

It's important to keep your voice and your students voices happy and healthy, so take a look at our Vocal Health Area for some top advice from the experts.

Endoscopy Video

The way our voices work is fascinating, and if you're feeling brave you can see exactly what we mean in this endoscopic footage of the larynx!

Guide: Leading singing with different age groups

Make sure that you're singing the right songs to nurture your pupil's voices at different stages of their development. See our handy guide to teaching singing to different age groups.