Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Robot Jaws

Chewing robot closely mimics human mouth for testing drug delivery via chewing gum

14 September 2020

Robot Jaws

Admittedly, the title of this piece sounds like it belongs to a dodgy sci-fi shark movie, but put the popcorn down because what it actually refers to is a completely genuine robotic chewing device (pictured). Why, you might ask, is it necessary to build a robot to perform one of the simplest possible tasks known to man? The answer is that pharmaceutical companies are busy developing medicated chewing gums, and having a robotic mouth (which even contains artificial saliva) for testing and assessing novel gum recipes means the need for human subjects at the initial stages of research and development can be avoided. Tests that examined how xylitol — a sugar substitute — was released from chewing gum in a human mouth versus the electronic orifice showed both performed similarly and therefore that the motorised masticator would likely be a good stand-in for the real thing.

Written by Ruth Williams

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