Scientists at the University of Leeds have developed an advanced aqueous lubricant technology that promises significant relief for individuals who suffer from dry mouth conditions. According to laboratory tests, this novel saliva substitute is four to five times more effective than existing commercially available products.
The key to the success of this groundbreaking solution lies in its unique molecular structure. Under a powerful microscope, the substance, known as a microgel, forms a lattice-like network or sponge that binds onto the surface of the mouth. Surrounding the microgel is a hydrogel made from polysaccharides, which effectively traps water. This dual-function mechanism ensures long-lasting hydration for the mouth.
Unlike many existing products, which only provide short-term relief due to their inability to bind to the mouth’s surface, the University of Leeds’ saliva substitute offers a longer-lasting effect. Frequent reapplication is no longer necessary, and individuals can enjoy extended comfort while speaking or eating.
In laboratory evaluations, the newly developed substance, available in dairy protein and vegan potato protein versions, outperformed eight commercial saliva substitutes, including well-known brands such as Biotene and Oralieve. The benchmarking tests involved an artificial tongue-like surface and did not include human subjects.
Compared to the commercially available products, which experienced a loss of between 23% to 58% of lubricant, the saliva substitute developed at Leeds only lost 7%. The dairy version of the microgel showed slightly superior performance to the vegan version.
These promising results indicate that the University of Leeds’ innovation has the potential to relieve dry mouth symptoms up to five times longer than existing products. The unique microgel formula demonstrates high moisturization, strong binding with the mouth’s surfaces, and effective lubrication, ensuring a more comfortable experience for individuals while eating and talking.
The substances used in the production of this saliva substitute, such as proteins and carbohydrates from dairy and plants, are both non-toxic to humans and non-caloric.
While the current testing has been limited to laboratory analysis, the scientific team is optimistic that human trials will yield similar results. The researchers are working towards translating their lubricant technology into commercially available products, with the aim of vastly improving the quality of life for individuals suffering from debilitating dry mouth conditions.
Q: What is the significance of the newly developed saliva substitute?
A: Laboratory tests demonstrate that the saliva substitute developed by scientists at the University of Leeds is four to five times more effective than existing commercially available products for treating dry mouth conditions.
Q: How does the saliva substitute work?
A: The saliva substitute’s unique molecular structure, composed of a microgel and polysaccharide-based hydrogel, binds to the surface of the mouth and effectively traps water, providing long-lasting hydration.
Q: Why is this innovation important?
A: Dry mouth, or xerostomia, affects around one in ten people and can lead to discomfort swallowing, malnutrition, and dental problems. By offering extended relief, this saliva substitute alleviates healthcare burdens associated with dry mouth conditions.
Scientific Reports. (2023). Benchmarking of a microgel-reinforced hydrogel-based aqueous lubricant against commercial saliva substitutes. doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-46108-w.