Robotic jaw medicated gum
Robotic jaws may help researchers test medicated chewing gum without using human participants. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kazem Alemzadeh, University of Bristol.

Researchers at the University of Bristol have found promising results after using a robotic jaw to test medicated gum.

Medicated gum has the potential to be a useful method of drug delivery. It could be used to continuously release drugs in a patient at a relatively slow rate. Additionally, it could be a convenient form of drug delivery for patients.

However, it can be difficult to test the effectiveness of medicated gum in humans. Additionally, it can be difficult to conduct tests such as tracking the drug’s release rate while also minimizing human exposure to drugs.

In an effort to increase ability to test medicated gum, researchers at the University of Bristol have recently tested chewing robot jaws that mimic humans to research gum. In one particular study, these robotic jaws were tested to investigate whether they could effectively emulate human chewing in order to accurately assess medicated gum.

The researchers used gum with xylitol, and compared the rate and amount of xylitol released in human participants’ mouths with robotic humanoid jaws. Artificial saliva was used in robots.

Researchers measured the level of xylitol released from the gum at 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes of continuous chewing. The release rate of xylitol was found to be comparable between human participants and robots, and the rate of release decreased throughout the 20 minutes similarly in both groups.

Although it is only the beginning of such research, this study shows evidence in support of robots being used to test medicated gum. Testing using a robotic jaw removes a major barrier in research, and because of this, will likely help to accelerate its development.

Using a robotic jaw instead of human participants would likely lower costs in research. It could also reduce the time required to conduct certain studies, as researchers will not need to obtain ethics board approval to perform research that does not involve testing on humans. This technology may also help researchers continue studies in the context of COVID-19 because the risk of viral transmission will be decreased with less testing involving humans.

Nicola West, Professor in Restorative Dentistry at the Bristol Dental School and co-author of the study, said:

“The most convenient drug administration route to patients is through oral delivery methods. This research, utilizing a novel humanoid artificial oral environment, has the potential to revolutionize investigation into oral drug release and delivery,”

Via: University of Bristol

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