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Hearts, muscles, and vocal cords can all be repaired with synthetic tissue.

"People recuperating from heart disease frequently have a long and difficult road ahead of them. The continual movement tissues must tolerate while the heart beats makes healing difficult. The same can be said of vocal cords. There was no injectable substance powerful enough for the job until now "Guangyu Bao, a PhD candidate at McGill University's Department of Mechanical Engineering, agrees.

Professor Luc Mongeau and Assistant Professor Jianyu Li headed the team that created a new injectable hydrogel for wound healing. The hydrogel is a form of biomaterial that allows cells to live and grow in a controlled environment. The biomaterial produces a stable, porous structure once injected into the body, allowing live cells to grow or pass through to repair the afflicted organs.

"The results are promising," adds Guangyu Bao, "and we hope that one day the novel hydrogel will be utilised as an implant to restore the voice of persons with damaged vocal cords, such as laryngeal cancer survivors."

The researchers put their hydrogel to the test in a machine they built to mimic the extraordinary biomechanics of human vocal chords. The unique biomaterial stayed intact after 6 million cycles of vibration at 120 times a second, whereas other typical hydrogels shattered into fragments due to the load's stress.

"We were ecstatic to discover that it functioned flawlessly in our test. No injectable hydrogels have great porosity and hardness at the same time until our work. We added a pore-forming polymer to our formula to tackle this problem "Guangyu Bao agrees.

The breakthrough also opens up new possibilities for additional uses such as drug delivery, tissue editing, and the production of model tissues for drug testing, according to the researchers. The team is also considering using hydrogel technology to manufacture COVID-19 drug test lungs.

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