Tissue Engineering: Vocal fold Tissue Engineering
The human vocal folds are paired structures that are brought into contact across the airway for sound production. Each vocal fold consists of a pliable vibratory layer of connective tissue, known as the lamina propria (LP), sandwiched between epithelium and muscle. The lamina propria plays a critical role in the production of voice as its shape and tension determine the vibratory characteristics of the vocal folds. Under normal conditions, vocal folds can sustain up to 30% strain at frequencies of 100 to 1000 Hz. Mechanical stresses and pathological conditions can disrupt the natural pliability of LP, resulting in vocal fold disorders ranging from benign nodules to laryngeal cancer. The development of a tissue engineering methodology for the reconstruction of the vocal fold will not only provide an in vitro platform for the investigation of vocal fold diseases but also offer alternative treatments for vocal fold disorders.
Our method for the engineering of functional vocal fold lamina propria relies on the strategic combination of multipotent cells, physiologically relevant mechanical stimulations, biomimetic matrices and defined biological cues. Current effort is dedicated to the creation of an in vitro vocal fold mimetic microenvironment for controlled differentiation of human mesehchymal stem cells (hMSCs) into vocal fold fibroblast–like cells and ultimately in vitro functional tissue assembly.
Check out the Chemical & Engineering News (September 22, 2008|Volume 86, Number 38|PP.78–80) report on our work – "Hybrid Polymers for Healing Voices".