Humans speak about 16,000 words a day on average.
And while we may spend a good deal of time thinking about what those words are, we rarely, if ever, think about how they get said.
10 Amazing Parts Created Outside The Body
For many people who've had cancer or other vocal cord damage, thinking about how to speak, if ever again, is likely a daily thought.
But the very first functional vocal cord tissue grown in a lab may make that question obsolete.
Vocal cord mucosa is the flexible yet strong tissue over which air passes, creating sound. To grow it in a lab setting, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison took cancer-free mucosa from cadavers, added a collagen scaffolding, and waited.
Two weeks later, they had a strong yet flexible tissue that, structurally and compositionally, looked a lot like functional vocal cord mucosa.
Transplantation of the lab-grown tissue into the voice boxes of cadaver dogs proved that it could create sound, and transplantation into live mice showed the immune system wouldn't reject it.
Human Speech Gene Found
"It seems like the engineered vocal cord tissue may be like cornea tissue in that it is immunoprivileged, meaning that it doesn't set off a host immune reaction," study author Nathan Welham said in a press release.
Doing the procedure on humans is years away, say experts, but the findings are promising - and may offer a glimmer of hope for those whose only other option is a complete larynx transplant, a procedure that requires lifelong immunosuppression and which has only been successfully performed twice.
And that has a lot of people singing praises.