Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Improving the quality of life for larynx cancer patients


Currently, voice rehabilitation of larynx cancer patients is performed by inserting a one-way shunt valve between trachea and oesophagus that prevents food and liquid from entering the trachea. Pressing the tracheal opening with a finger forces exhaled air through the shunt valve to the oesophagus, where soft tissue structures serve as a substitute voice. However, the voice is in many cases of poor quality and the process creates a mental barrier during speaking, as patients have to literally point at their handicap.

The NEWVOICE project aims to improve the quality of life for laryngectomees by developing a new voice-producing shunt prosthesis that is able to produce a voice with sufficient loudness, adjustable fundamental frequency and natural intonation.

Dr. Bart Verkerke, Project Manager of the Department of BioMedical Engineering at the main partner, the University of Groningen, describes how the partners initiated this work in a previous EUREKA project. “Most of the NEWVOICE participants were involved in project E! 723 ARTIFICIAL LARYNX, during which we gained a lot of the expertise in medical devices to improve the rehabilitation process that will be used in this project.”

Tackling problems
The new voice-producing element that was inspired by the lips of a trumpet player is working well technically, but poses a prototyping problem as it is too big to fit into an existing shunt valve. Work is progressing to try to develop a small voice-producing element that still has the proper frequency characteristics. At the same time, the project also aims to develop a new fixation technique, the so-called tissue connector, which allows for a larger shunt valve.

Six different concepts for the tissue connector that fastens the shunt valve in place are being tested as “it was impossible to determine which of the alternatives was the most appropriate. We will perform a pilot animal study to test them and choose the most effective,” says Verkerke.

A critical problem facing the project team is that food and fluid passing the shunt valve stimulates the formation of a biofilm. “This causes the shunt valve to malfunction, making it necessary to replace the shunt valve frequently, on average every four months,” explains Dr Mark Waters, Senior Lecturer in Biomaterials at Cardiff Dental School. “The task of the UK partners is to develop silicone rubber materials which are less susceptible to biofilm formation.”

The project has already developed coatings that slow down or prevent biofilm adhesion that could extend the life of a shunt valve for some patients considerably.

According to Verkerke, “the major challenges lying ahead include finding a material that can resist all yeasts and bacteria, proving that the concept of the tissue connector works, and finding a voice-producing element small enough to fit into a shunt valve.”

Nicola Vatthauer | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>