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Wednesday 22 January 2014 4:42pm

The research of recent SJWRI PhD graduate Sara Hanning, whose doctoral project was supervised by the late Professor Jules Kieser in partnership with Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott of the University of Otago's National School of Pharmacy, was profiled in the Otago Daily Times. Sara's research looked into ways to make the life of xerostomia patients more comfortable, through the development of more effective saliva substitutes.

Photo of Sara Hanning working on her artifical saliva project

Xerostomia is a condition in which saliva production is drastically reduced, leading to a dry mouth. This can lead to difficulties with speech, eating and infection of the oral mucosa. Also, as the protective effect of the saliva on the enamel of the teeth is no longer present, the risk of developing cavities is considerably increased. Xerostomia is often found in cancer patients who have gone through radiotherapy of the neck and throat areas.

The aim of Sara's project was to investigate oily formulations for the treatment of dry mouth and its associated high risk of tooth caries. Oily formulations were investigated as water alone often quickly drains or evaporates away, resulting in persistence of the condition. Emulsions of oil and water were shown to be much more effective in reducing the effects of dry mouth.

Having completed her project and graduated from the University with a PhD, Sara is now heading to University College London to take up a postdoctoral research position. Her work is being built upon by a SJWRI Doctorate of Clinical Dentistry research student, Olivia Apperley, who is investigating clinical applications of Sara's saliva substitute in a small-scale clinical trial amongst xerostomia patients in Christchurch. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Dr Maggie-Lee Huckabee of the Van Der Veer Institute, University of Canterbury, as part of the Biomouth Research Group.

Otago Daily Times story on Sara's project ('Dry mouth cure hope', 22 Jan 2014)

SJWRI profile on Sara and her project

More on the Biomouth Research Group

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