Research Foundation News

February 23, 2021

Tissue-engineered implants provide new hope for vocal injuries

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – New technology from Purdue University and Indiana University School of Medicine innovators may one day help patients who suffer devastating vocal injuries from surgery on the larynx.

A collaborative team consisting of Purdue biomedical engineers and clinicians from IU has tissue-engineered component tissue replacements that support reconstruction of the larynx. The team’s work is published in The Laryngoscope.

The larynx is a very complex human organ consisting of outer cartilage for structural support, inner muscle that contracts to permit voicing, swallowing, and breathing, and inner vibratory lining.

Currently, thousands of patients each year with laryngeal cancer or trauma require a procedure called total laryngectomy in which the entire larynx is removed, and patients are left without a human voice and breathing through a hole in their neck called a stoma.

“There are very few options for laryngeal reconstruction and no options for restoration of laryngeal appearance, structure and function,” said Stacey Halum, a fellowship-trained laryngologist specializing in head and neck surgery. “While surgeons occasionally use local or free tissue transfers to repair laryngeal defects, these local or regional tissues just ‘plug holes’ or close the defects without really restoring function because the transferred tissues are not dynamic – they do not move or contract. They also tend to lose bulk and scar over time.”

Halum, along with Sherry Harbin, a professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, led the innovation team.

The innovators used a patented collagen polymer developed by Harbin’s lab to fabricate the three regenerative replacement tissues for the laryngeal reconstruction procedure.

“Our approach is unique in that we are using customized engineered tissue replacements, with the muscle component fabricated using the patient’s own muscle progenitor cells,” Harbin said. “We believe these engineering approaches will provide patients with better options for reconstruction so that total laryngectomies become something of the past.”

Harbin and Halum believe the technology has widespread applications for custom fabrication of engineered tissue replacements for tissue restoration in other parts of the body.

Harbin founded GeniPhys, a Purdue startup focused on the commercialization of the collagen polymer technology.

Halum is an associate professor in the IU School of Medicine Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery who has an adjunct appointment in Purdue’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and sees patients at the IU Health Voice Center in Carmel, Indiana.

The project is funded by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

The innovators worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the technology. The researchers are looking for partners to continue developing and commercializing their technology. For more information on licensing and other opportunities, contact Sherry Harbin at harbins@purdue.edu.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office is located in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. In fiscal year 2020, the office reported 148 deals finalized with 225 technologies signed, 408 disclosures received and 180 issued U.S. patents. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Contact otcip@prf.org for more information.      

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

Writer: Chris Adam, cladam@prf.org 

Source:
Sherry Harbin, harbins@purdue.edu


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