A team of researchers at Harvard and MIT has developed a polymer gel, pictured above, that mimics the vibrations of human vocal cords. The synthetic, injectable material holds the potential to restore the function of scarred vocal cords and provide a new treatment option for the roughly 6 percent of the U.S. population suffering from voice disorders.
In developing the gel, researchers used a variation of polyethylene glycol known as PEG30, which mimics the viscoelasticity of human vocal cords. According to a release:
In laboratory tests, [researchers] showed that the vibration that results from blowing air on a vocal-fold model of PEG30 is very similar to that seen in human vocal folds. Also, tests showed that PEG30 can restore vibration to stiff, non-vibrating vocal folds such as those seen in human patients suffering from vocal-fold scarring.
Photo by MIT/MGH