A revolutionary aqueous lubricant, developed by scientists at the University of Leeds, is set to transform the lives of those suffering from dry mouth. This groundbreaking saliva substitute has been found to be four to five times more effective than currently available commercial products, according to laboratory tests.
The key to the success of this novel technology lies in a microgel, referred to as a lattice-like network or sponge, that binds onto the surface of the mouth. Surrounding this microgel is a polysaccharide-based hydrogel that traps water, ensuring the mouth remains hydrated for longer periods of time.
Compared with existing products, which require frequent reapplication due to their inability to bind to the surface of the mouth, the Leeds saliva substitute offers longer-lasting relief. This is a significant improvement in quality of life for individuals with dry mouth, as it eliminates the need for constant interruptive application while talking or eating.
Moreover, laboratory evaluation of the substance revealed minimal desorption, with only 7% of the lubricant lost from the surface of an artificial tongue-like model. In contrast, other commercially available products experienced lubricant loss ranging from 23% to 58%. This performance advantage can be attributed to the adsorption process, where the molecules in the substitute bind to the surface of the mouth, providing a highly effective lubricating action.
The saliva substitute is available in two variants: one derived from dairy protein and another vegan-friendly version made from potato protein. Both variants demonstrated exceptional performance, with the dairy version slightly outperforming the vegan alternative.
Safety is of utmost importance in the development of this innovative product. The substances used, including diary and plant proteins and carbohydrates, are non-toxic and non-caloric, making them ideal for use in healthcare products.
While human trials are yet to be conducted, the promising results obtained from laboratory analysis indicate that the Leeds saliva substitute could potentially offer relief up to five times longer than existing options under real-world conditions. Researchers are optimistic about the future availability of this product and its potential to greatly enhance the quality of life for individuals suffering from the burdensome effects of xerostomia.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is dry mouth or xerostomia?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common condition characterized by a lack of saliva production. It affects approximately one in ten individuals and is particularly prevalent in older people, cancer patients, and those taking multiple medications.
How does the saliva substitute work?
The saliva substitute developed at the University of Leeds features a microgel that binds to the surface of the mouth, providing a lattice-like network or sponge effect. This microgel is enveloped in a polysaccharide-based hydrogel that effectively traps water, keeping the mouth hydrated for extended periods. This unique composition offers longer-lasting relief compared to existing products.
Can I use the saliva substitute without any concerns about safety?
Yes, the saliva substitute is composed of non-toxic diary and plant proteins and carbohydrates. These substances are safe for human use and are non-caloric, ensuring that the product is suitable for addressing dry mouth conditions.
When will the saliva substitute be available for purchase?
Although the product has undergone successful laboratory evaluation, it is yet to be tested in human trials. The researchers behind this breakthrough innovation are working towards translating the technology into commercially available products to alleviate the challenges faced by individuals with dry mouth. Stay tuned for further updates on the availability of this game-changing saliva substitute.
Source: University of Leeds (leeds.ac.uk)