The research in Mongeau Research Group falls into three main categories:
- Tissue Engineering and Biomechanics
- Nonlinear acoustics
With collaborators in fields as diverse as medicine and aeronautics, our researchers employ a wide range of techniques and instruments—both conventional and novel—to solve real-world problems. From developing better treatment options for patients with voice disorders and a phonation-induced perfusion bioreactor to building computer models to reduce jet engine noise, our lab is on the cutting edge of vocal fold tissue engineering, biomechanics and aeroacoustics research. By cooperating with colleagues in the medical sciences, our studies take into consideration a wide array of factors, from the biological and physiological to the chemical and genetic. Our team is at work in both the lab and clinic to make the diagnosis and treatment of vocal cord injury and disease, including vocal fold scarring and laryngeal cancer more effective, less invasive, more personlised--and ultimately more successful.
Current Research Projects
National Institutes of Health (R01 DC05788-10)
Principal Investigator: Prof Luc Mongeau
Project Period: July 1st 2003 to June 30th 2018
National Institutes of Health (R01 DC014461-01A1)
Principal Investigator: Prof Xinqiao Jia
Project Period: December 1st 2015 to November 30th 2016
Voice is produced when the vocal folds are driven into a wave-like motion by the airstream from the trachea, converting aerodynamic energy and airflow into acoustic energy in the form of sound. The key to this great mechanical versatility lie in the unique structure and composition of the tissue. Each vocal fold consists of a pliable vibratory layer of connective tissue, known as the lamina propria (LP), sandwiched between a muscle and an epithelial layer. The structure and mechanics of the LP change gradually from the muscle to the epithelium. Numerous environmental, mechanical and pathological factors can damage this delicate tissue, resulting in a wide spectrum of voice disorders that affect millions o Americans. Current treatment options for vocal fold disorders are limited, and the development of new procedures has been slow owing to the inaccessibility of the tissue, its susceptibility to damage, and the anatomical differences of animal models from the human tissue. This project aims to engineer a reliable, physiologically relevant in vitro tissue model that can be used to investigate vocal fold development, health, and disease, and more importantly, to facilitate the development and testing of new treatment options. The central hypothesis of the proposed work is that vocal fold-mimetic synthetic extracellular matrices (sECMs) displaying a layered and gradient structure with tissue- like anisotropy will provide the resident cells with guidance cues for the establishment of appropriate tissue structures. The initial template effects from the sECMs will be further reinforced by the application of physiologically relevant vibratory stimulations, ultimately producing a viable and functional vocal fold tissue model. In Aim 1, we will create sECMs using modular building blocks and employing a rapid bioorthogonal reaction at well-defined interfaces. The resultant sECM will consist of a bottom fibrous layer, a basement membrane-like top layer and a middle gel layer with a gradient of crosslinking density and biochemical signals. In Aim 2, we will produce and characterize stem cell-derived vocal fold epithelial cells. The differentiated epithelial cells will be grown on sECMs populated by primary human vocal fold fibroblasts (VFFs). Culture conditions will be identified to foster the epithelialization of the engineered LP. In Aim 3, we will fabricate a self- oscillating tissue construct, consisting of the VFF-laden sECM supported on a cell-free synthetic hydrogel with geometry and mechanics reflecting that of the vocal fold muscle. The construct, maintained under standard cell culture conditions, will be regularly transferred to an oscillatory bioreactor or mechanical stimulations. Under the engineered, vocal fold-mimetic microenvironment, VFFs will actively remodel the synthetic environment, secrete native matrix components, and communicate with the tethered epithelial cells to establish a cohesive and functional tissue. Overall, the combination of tissue-mimetic synthetic matrix, pluripotent stem cells and a vibratory culture device offers an exciting opportunity for the engineering of reliable and viable vocal fold tissue models.