Bioadhesive Patch Chases Canker Sores Away

Photo by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.


Photo by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Also known as aphthous ulcers, canker sores seem inevitable. They can reemerge about 3 or 4 times a year, and each one lasts about a week. And patients can’t do very much about them either, except suffer and wait for them to go away.

A professor at Texas A&M University, though, may have a solution that could accelerate their departure. Xiaohua Liu, PhD, of the university’s Baylor College of Dentistry is developing a bioadhesive patch that directly delivers medication to canker sores and other oral ulcers.

“What we’re trying to develop is a patch that has the drug preloaded into it so that we can control how the medication is released, and we can be very specific about where it goes,” said Liu.

Gels and mouthwashes can dull canker sore pain, but they can get washed away with food, drinks, or saliva. However, the patch’s multiple-layer structure delivers the drug directly on the ulcer, maximizing its effectiveness while preventing local side effects and overdose. The patch also protects the ulcer from irritation from food or oral structures.

Simple canker sores can be caused by stress, tissue injuries, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or viral infections. Citrus and acidic fruits and vegetables can trigger them too, or make them worse. Sometimes, people can get multiple canker sores simultaneously, exacerbating the problem.

“Several immunological diseases, such as aphthous ulcers or oral lichen planus, can cause multiple ulcers, erosive lesions, and sore mouth to patients for days or weeks,” said Yi-Shing Lisa Cheng, MS, PhD, an associate professor of diagnostic sciences and Liu’s collaborator.

“Because the causes for these diseases are still unclear, they are not curable and the patients have to live with these diseases for life. The goal of our management is for relieving pain when the disease is active,” Cheng said.

Next, Liu and Cheng will test the patch for safety and effectiveness in animal models and eventually clinical trials in human beings.

“We hope these kinds of patches can ultimately help improve the quality of life for patients,” Liu said. “That’s why we’re so excited about this work.”

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