New Gum Could Replace Toothpaste for Soldiers

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In the past, America’s fighting men and women have relied on sugary gum included in rations as a way to clean their teeth. Thanks to research conducted at the UK College of Pharmacy, future soldiers, deployed in areas where they don’t have the time or the means to brush, could carry chewing gum that will prevent dental decay. This gum is receiving global attention as the product nears testing in an upcoming Phase I clinical trial funded by the U.S. Army Dental Research Detachment.

Developed by pharmacy professor Patrick Deluca, the gum contains KSL, an antimicrobial, anti-adhesive and abrasive agent that disrupts plaque formation and promotes the dissolution of plaque.

Last fall, Abeer Al-Ghananeem, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, took over the project when DeLuca was elected president of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. She says, “Once the manufacturing facility is on board, UK will work side by side with manufacturers and help guide them as they come up with a successful formulation.”

So far, all research has been done with a chewing machine in Al-Ghananeem’s lab, a device which simulates the human mouth chewing—complete with artificial saliva. Al-Ghananeem says she is optimistic that the Phase I trial will be completed within 18 months to two years.

“Troops come home from war with a lot of dental problems that affect their quality of life,” Al-Ghananeem points out. “These soldiers don’t always have access to water, toothpaste, a toothbrush or the right time or place to take care of their teeth. This research could have a great impact on their health and quality of life, but it also has a global impact, especially in third-world countries. Children born with AIDS in Africa have serious and painful dental problems, and I believe this gum can enhance their quality of life.”—Ann Blackford

Abeer Al-Ghananeem

Abeer Al-Ghananeem

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