A team of scientists, at Brazil’s University of São Paulo, has devised a new and innovative technique of administering anesthetic in a patient’s mouth, without using needles. As effective and fast-acting as injections traditionally used in dental surgery, the new method involves the application of small amounts of electric current to give patients a local painkiller, in the form of a spray, ointment or hydrogel. The research, according to the scientists, could help alleviate the discomfort of those suffering from some form of needle phobia.
Reducing the risk of infection and contamination, commonly associated with the use of injections, the new technique administers a local anesthetic (basically a gel containing prilocaine and lidocaine) through a process called iontophoresis, in which the application of an electric field results in a increased flow of ions. Speaking about the new research, recently published in the Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces journal, Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez, a professor at the University of São Paulo and one of the study’s authors, said:
Needle-free administration could save costs, improve patient compliance, facilitate application and decrease the risks of intoxication and contamination. This may facilitate access to more effective and safe dental treatments for thousands of people around the world.
Invasive dental procedures often require the use of anesthetics to help block the pain; something that is usually administered with the help of needles. For patients who are scared of injections, dentists currently have to go through the additional step of applying topical painkiller to eliminate the pain caused by needles. The new needle-free approach gets the anesthetic into the patient’s mouth more efficiently, but also helps enhance its effectiveness to a great extent.
For the research, the scientists added a special polymer to the anesthetic hydrogel to help it adhere to the lining of the mouth. To this, they mixed two of the commonly used numbing drugs, lidocaine hydrochloride (LCL) and prilocaine hydrochloride (PCL). To test the efficacy of the gel, the team applied it on the mouth lining of a pig, which was then exposed to a small amount of painless electric current.
According to the researchers, the application of the electric current made the anesthetic incredibly long-lasting and fast-acting. What is more, it brought about a 12-fold improvement in the drug’s absorption through the pig’s mouth lining, while also substantially enhancing the entry of prilocaine hydrochloride into the body. The team believes that the new technology could prove helpful in dentistry anesthesia as well as different kinds of cancer treatments. Lopez added:
Over the last few years, our research group has been working on the development of novel drug delivery systems for the treatment of several skin and eye diseases. The skin and eyes pose challenges for drug delivery, so we have focused on improving drug delivery in these organs using nanotechnology, iontophoresis and sonophoresis, which is permeation using sound waves.
Following successful animal trials, the scientists are currently working towards preclinical tests, and are also in the process of developing a highly-specialized iontophoretic device that can be used in the mouth.
Via: Aplha Galileo