The project is funded by the Institute of Laryngology and Voice Restoration, which consists of patients whose mission is to support and fund research and education in treating and restoring voice. Julie Andrews is the foundation's honorary chairwoman.
In a study recently published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, the researchers tested the biocompatibility of the gel by injecting it into the healthy vocal folds of dogs. After four months, the treated dogs showed no damage to their vocal cords.
"That gives us exciting data that this has a real good chance of working in people without creating damage," Karajanagi says, adding that clinical trials will be needed to confirm this.
The researchers are now working on developing a manufacturing process that will generate enough of the material, in high quality, for human trials. They hope to run a trial of about 10 patients next year. They are also working on developing methods for injecting the material at the right location to treat human vocal cords.
Such gels could find other medical applications, by varying the chemical properties of the PEG, Langer says. "We think of what we do as 'designer polymers,'" he says. "We can modify them depending on the problem we're trying to solve."
|Contact: Marta Buczek|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology