Researchers at the University of Leeds have developed a hydrogel that has potential for oral care products that can help with dry mouth relief. This bio-inspired lubricant can act as an alternative to saliva without additional lipid content.
For instance, dry mouth syndrome or xerostomia poses a limitation on the lubrication of oral surfaces in the absence of natural saliva, while extra lipid intake is undesirable for these patients, especially for the elderly, where this syndrome is prevalent.
The developed formulation also potentially can be used to replicate the lubricating properties of fat content in food products, providing the possibility of decreasing caloric content without sacrificing sensory attributes, the researchers said.
The synergistic superlubricity of the microgel-reinforced hydrogel offers a unique prospect in the fabrication of biocompatible aqueous lubricants for dry mouth therapy or the design of non-obesogenic nutritional technologies, the researchers said.
“The excelling lubrication performance of this patented microgel-reinforced hydrogel is attributed to the synergistic interactions between the proteinaceous microgels and the biopolymeric hydrogel with benefits of both viscous and boundary lubrication,” said principal investigator Anwesha Sarkar, PhD, MS, professor of colloids and surfaces at Leeds.
“The development of this bio-inspired aqueous lubricant technology as an alternative to saliva is a high priority. To date, such superlubricity is not achieved by any other commercial dry mouth therapies as they lack boundary lubrication properties,” Sarkar said.
“With the help of ERC (European Research Council) Proof of Concept Funding, we are now collaborating with Nexus at the University of Leeds and expect to license this technology soon to industries to ultimately provide sustained relief to dry mouth patients,” Sarkar said.
The study, “Synergistic Microgel-Reinforced Hydrogels as a High-Performance Lubricants,” was published by ACS Macro Letters.