“Voice Box” Transplants using Stem Cells to Begin in 2013!

People with complications due to improper working of “voice box” (larynx) have a reason to smile now.

Professor Martin Birchall, who in 2008, for the first time in the world carried out the stem cell transplantation of a wind pipe, announced at the National Stem Cell Network annual meeting conducted recently in York, that the first clinical trials of stem cell voice box transplants will begin in the year 2013.

If the trials are proven effective, this treatment could treat nearly 1300 patients per year in the UK alone who are victims of voice box problems resulting in difficulty to speak, breathe and swallow.

Larynx or voice box is not only responsible for activities such as swallowing, breathing and speaking but also helps in smelling, tasting, coughing and kissing.

Even though transplants are being carried out now using donor organs, the disadvantage with such transplants is the continuous medications the patient has to take after transplant throughout his/her life.

RegenVOX, the new project to be tested in 2013, uses stem cells, which apart from being used as the source of larynx in the transplant procedure, also help in restoring the patient’s immune system, thereby cutting down the intake of immune-suppressant drugs after transplantation.

This new project was suggested by Professor Birchall, to assess the possibility of using stem cells to repair larynx, a similar approach that was followed for windpipe transplant.

According to Professor Birchall, a multi-disciplinary team of leading experts in the fields of bioengineering, nanotechnology, research and surgery have been assembled to create RegenVOX project.

The required funding to this project, so far a million pounds has been donated by Medical Research Council (MRC).

The results of the clinical trials of this project will be anticipated by people around the world who have been enduring the trauma of an imperfect larynx.

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