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SELECTBIO Conferences Bioprinting & 3D Printing in the Life Sciences

Bioprinting & 3D Printing in the Life Sciences Agenda

Regenerating the vocal folds

Nazia Mehrban, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University College London

Scarring to the vocal folds (VF) caused by inflammation, trauma or after treatment of laryngeal disorders can lead to hoarseness or even voice loss. Development of scar tissue affects the microstructure of the superficial lamina propria, leading to changes in mechanical properties of the tissue, which disrupt phonation. This has devastating effects on social and work life, particularly if voice is the primary mode of communication. Treatments such as speech therapy and conventional surgery are insufficient for restoring normal voice in patients with scarring as they do not restore the native layered structure of the VFs. Previously, various groups have sought to overcome this by using injected cellular/ growth factor treatment and acellular methods, with mixed results due to a limited understanding of interactions between complex growth factors/ cells and the scarred tissue and resorption of the material injected. An alternative approach is not to recreate the complexity of the entire VF but to use either natural or synthetic materials to guide cell growth and create a favourable bed on which the cells can proliferate, differentiate and repair the scarred tissue on the superficial layer. Here the epithelium acts as a protective layer over the rest of the VF. For this purpose I have used a 3D-printed hybrid scaffold, to elicit control over morphology and pore size, for the promotion of cellular attachment, migration, proliferation and differentiation whilst maintaining structural integrity. I hope to use these characteristics to develop a functional larynx capable of reproducing the female and male pitch.