Researchers are working on creating “flavoured lollipops” that have the potential to aid in detecting mouth cancer.

Researchers are working on creating "flavoured lollipops" that have the potential to aid in detecting mouth cancer.

Researchers are currently in the process of creating “taste-infused candy” that could potentially detect the presence of oral cancer, eliminating the need for uncomfortable and invasive procedures.

Currently, the diagnosis of oral cancer may require using a bendable camera attached to a tube inserted through the nose or mouth, followed by a biopsy for further analysis.

This method is intrusive and may cause discomfort and take a significant amount of time. It also requires specialized expertise from an endoscopist.


We aspire to create a device that is more gentle and user-friendly for diagnosing oral cancer in patients and for GPs.

Dr Ruchi Gupta

The lollipop created by researchers has potential as a faster and more gentle option for primary care, such as in GP practices.

Scientists at the University of Birmingham created a material called smart hydrogel that is used to make lollipops.

The concept involves having patients suck on a lollipop to transfer a saliva sample into the hydrogel.

According to the researchers, the hydrogel functions as a fishing net, capturing proteins and saliva that could potentially serve as cancer biomarkers.

The proteins can be extracted for analysis by cutting open the “net” in the laboratory, according to the researchers.

According to Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor studying biosensors at the University of Birmingham, smart hydrogels have the potential to greatly advance the diagnosis of mouth cancer.

This venture marks an exhilarating initial phase in a completely novel approach to detect oral cancers sooner.

Dr Iain Foulkes

“We are enthusiastic about beginning the next phase of this project. These solids have the ability to be easily shaped in order to capture proteins found in saliva.”

“We aim to be the pioneering creators of a device that is more gentle for patients and more user-friendly for physicians in detecting oral cancer.”

The funding for the project amounts to £350,000 and is provided by both Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

According to Dr Gupta, the team is currently investigating focus groups in order to identify potential flavors for the lollipops.

According to Dr. Iain Foulkes, who is in charge of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, biopsies and nasoendoscopy are the most reliable methods for diagnosing mouth cancer. However, these procedures require a high level of expertise and can be uncomfortable for patients.

We are seeking a more precise, speedy, and compassionate substitute test that can assist us in detecting instances of oral cancer at an earlier stage.

The thought of putting a lollipop round your mouth instead of having a biopsy in the first instance is amazing. I wish something like that had existed when I was diagnosed

Rachel Parsons, patient

“This initiative marks a thrilling initial stride towards a fresh approach to detecting oral cancers at an earlier stage.”

This research is leading us towards a future where individuals can experience longer and improved lives without the worry of cancer.

In 2008, Rachel Parsons, 52 years old and residing in Coventry, was recommended to undergo a biopsy at Coventry University Hospital due to a lump on her cheek.

The mother of five stated that she was not ready for the treatment, which ended up being quite uncomfortable.

Mrs. Parsons remarked that she was previously unaware of the true nature of a biopsy.

“I received a dental injection, and when its effects wore off, the area where I had stitches was very painful.”

Mrs. Parsons underwent a surgical procedure that lasted nine and a half hours to eliminate a malignant growth on her cheek and replace it with skin and veins from her forearm.

She stated, “Instead of having a biopsy initially, the idea of putting a lollipop in your mouth is incredible.”

“I wish there had been something like this available when I received my diagnosis.”