Humanoid chewing robot could help assess medicated chewing gum

Robot jaws show medicated chewing gum could be the future.


Medicated chewing gum is a new advanced drug delivery system which is supposed to act as an extended-release dosage form that provides a continuous release of medicine contained. It is going to advance more and more in nowadays researches. However, there is currently no gold standard for testing drug release from chewing gum in vitro.

Now, researchers at the Britain’s University of Bristol are developing a novel humanoid chewing robot, which features artificial saliva and allows the measurement of xylitol (polyhydric alcohol, used as a sweetener) release from the gum.

The chewing robot incorporates a built-in humanoid jaw that is capable of closely replicating the human chewing motion in a closed environment.

During the lab test, scientists asked both robot and human volunteers to chew the medicated gum for a total of 20 minutes. The natural and artificial saliva samples from robots and humans were collected after 5, 10, 15, and 20 minutes of continuous chewing. After analyzing the samples, it is found that the amount of xylitol released from the chewing gum varied over time.

The chewing robot showed a similar xylitol release rate as human participants. The highest release of xylitol occurred during the first five minutes of chewing. After 20 minutes of chewing, only a low amount of xylitol remained in the gum bolus, irrespective of the chewing method used.

These results demonstrate the chewing robot with built-in humanoid jaws could provide opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to develop medicated chewing gum, with reduced patient exposure and lower costs.

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,says Nicola West, Professor in Restorative Dentistry in the Bristol Dental School and co-author of the study.

Journal Reference:
  1. Development of a chewing robot with built-in humanoid jaws to simulate mastication to quantify robotic agents release from chewing gums compared to human participants. DOI: 10.1109/TBME.2020.3005863
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