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Vibrating gel aims to restore voice, help throat cancer victims

Posting in Cancer

The Who's Roger Daltrey, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and singer and actress Julie Andrews are backing research into the voice restoring gel by MIT and Harvard professors.

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.

For more see MIT's Langer Lab, Zeitels' bio

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Larry Dignan


Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure