A gel that can vibrate 200 times a second aims to replicate human vocal cords and give throat cancer victims a way to restore their voices.
According to a Bloomberg report, Robert Langer, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with Harvard surgeon Steven Zeitels, plan to test this gel next year in a cancer patient. MIT highlighted the voice gel in July.
The experiment is backed by some big voices---The Who's Roger Daltrey, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and singer and actress Julie Andrews. Daltrey and Tyler were Zeitels patients. About 6 percent of the U.S. population has some kind of voice disorder, according to Sandeep Karajanagi, a former MIT researcher who developed the gel while working as a postdoc in the Langer lab.
Among the key points from the Bloomberg story:
- The gel is injected into the vocal cords.
- Once there it acts like a membrane and responds to breath and muscles as real tissue would. Langer rearranged molecules to allow the gel to vibrate at the right speed.
- The gel has to bond with existing vocal cords and be long lasting. In addition, the elasticity has to be there to respond to muscle contractions.
- This gel is a form of polyethylene glycol, which is found in some skin creams.