Sticky Polymers Give New Hope to Patients With Mouth Ulcers

Researchers have created a new way to help heal ulcers -- a patch that remains relatively unaffected by the moisture in the mouth.

A new type of sticky bandage could give new hope to those suffering from painful mouth ulcers. A team from Sheffield University's School of Dentistry collaborated with Danish brand Dermtreat A/S on patches that would adhere and treat ulcers more effectively.

The patch doles out steroids directly to the ulcer site or lesion while also forming a protective and helpful barrier around the area. This substantially speeds up the healing process for patients.

Mouth ulcers can appear unexpectedly, and it affects roughly 2 percent of the global population. Of that 2 percent, 40 percent of those suffering from them report that they run in the family. The researchers noted how significant of an impact ulcers have on a person's physical health and also enjoyment of life.

“Chronic inflammatory conditions such as OLP and RAS, which cause erosive and painful oral lesions, have a considerable impact on quality of life," said Craig Murdoch, Reader in Oral Bioscience at the University of Sheffield's School of Clinical Dentistry and lead author of the research. 

Murdoch explained that his team had to go farther than traditional oral treatments like ointments or foam washes. 

“Current treatments consist of using steroids in the form of mouthwashes, creams or ointments, but these are often ineffective due to inadequate drug contact times with the lesion," he said.  “The patch acts like a plaster inside your mouth, which means it is very effective at directly targeting the specific area as well as forming a protective barrier."

Thus far, the team has experienced success with real patients using the patches. 

“Patients who have trialled the patch found it to be very comfortable to wear and they were really pleased with the length of adhesion which makes it particularly effective and efficient," Murdoch said.

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Jens Hansen, Chief Executive Officer at Dermtreat A/S, added: “Collaboration with the University of Sheffield has undoubtedly accelerated the translation of our intellectual property towards clinical use. Our company are very confident that we will soon gain regulatory approval for the first adhesive drug delivery technology to address pressing clinical needs in oral medicine.

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“We look forward to continuing this collaboration, which will be increasingly directed at finding new clinical applications for muco-adhesive patches.”

Luckily, next steps are already in motion to send these patches to phase 2 of clinical trials. Dermtreat A/S recently got $17.7 million from a venture firm called Sofinnova. That funding will help the researchers test it in both the UK and the United States. 

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