Robot jaws shows medicated chewing gum could be the future

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medicated chewing gum
Photo: olegdudko – 123rf

Medicated chewing gum has been recognised as a new advanced drug delivery method of both medical and dental products but currently there is no gold standard for testing drug release from chewing gum in vitro. But now new research from the UK has shown a chewing robot with built-in humanoid jaws could provide opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to develop medicated chewing gum.

The aim of researchers at the University of Bristol—whose study is published in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering—was to confirm whether a humanoid chewing robot could assess medicated chewing gum. The robot is capable of closely replicating the human chewing motion in a closed environment, features artificial saliva and allows the release of xylitol from the gum to be measured.

The team wanted to compare the amount of xylitol remaining in the gum between the chewing robot and human participants. They also wanted to assess the amount of xylitol released from chewing the gum.

The researchers found the chewing robot demonstrated a similar release rate of xylitol as human participants. The greatest release of xylitol occurred during the first five minutes of chewing, and after 20 minutes of chewing only a low amount of xylitol remained in the gum bolus, irrespective of the chewing method used.

Saliva and artificial saliva solutions respectively were collected after five, 10, 15 and 20 minutes of continuous chewing and the amount of xylitol released from the chewing gum established.

“Bioengineering has been used to create an artificial oral environment that closely mimics that found in humans,” study leader Dr Kazem Alemzadeh said.

“Our research has shown the chewing robot gives pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to investigate medicated chewing gum, with reduced patient exposure and lower costs using this new method.”

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