Sweet and savory patents help secure new flavors

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sugar Senomyx

Senomyx has added five new patents covering the use of the human
bitter and savory taste receptors to its belt, which will help it
develop new flavor ingredients.

The San Diego-based firm said the patents expand upon earlier patents it secured for using sweet and savory receptors to screen for compounds. This will help to discover new ingredients using methods that are more efficient than traditional flavor discovery approaches, the firm said. ​In the past, Senomyx said it has used a patented umami receptor assay to identify novel savory ingredients that have been incorporated into food products now being marketed by Nestle. Chief scientist Mark Zoller added: "We used a similar assay based on the sweet receptor to discover S2383, a promising enhancer of the artificial sweetener sucralose, and S5742, an enhancer of the natural sweetener sucrose, which is table sugar." ​ Senomyx is continuing to work on its sweetness enhancer S2383, which is claimed to be able to reduce sucralose by 75 percent. The five patents include composition claims covering savory and sweet receptors, as well as claims directed to T1R1, T1R2 and T1R3 nucleic acid sequences, which encode the receptors. President and chief executive Kent Snyder said the Senomyx is in several "development collaborations"​ with companies including Cadbury Schweppes, Nestle and the Coca-Cola Company. "The new patents strengthen our proprietary position regarding the use of these receptors in screening assays designed to identify new flavor ingredients that induce or modulate sweet and savory tastes,"​ Snyder said. Competition in the $10.4 billion global flavor and fragrance sector is rapidly increasing. In the US alone, demand for sweeteners grew to over $1 billion in 2004 on the back of growing concern over sugar consumption. Senomyx now has 113 patents and 371 pending in the US, Europe, and around the world. The patents approved this time round are for: * Binding assays that use the T1R1/T1R3 (umami) taste receptor to identify compounds that elicit or modulate umami taste. * Isolated umami (T1R1/T1R3) taste receptors that respond to umami taste stimuli. * Cell lines that stably or transiently express a functional sweet (T1R2/T1R3) taste receptor. * Isolated sweet (T1R2/T1R3) taste receptors that respond to sweet taste stimuli. * Functional assays for identifying compounds that modulate T1R2/T1R3 (sweet) taste. Its second quarter results announced in August showed the firm had a loss of $5.8m in the quarter and $12.4m in the half year to date. The firm's chief financial officer John Pyhonen told FoodNavigator-USA.com that although it does not expect to be profitable in 2007, it does expect the figures from the first shipment and sales of its savory flavor ingredients to come in during its third quarter. In the past three years it has not achieved profitability, which it says is "in line with expectations".​ Senomyx and Firmenich last week entered into a partnership to develop novel flavor ingredients that provide a cooling taste effect. During a three-year collaborative period Senomyx will use its proprietary screening technologies to develop novel compounds that may be used by Firmenich on an exclusive basis worldwide as ingredients that impart a cool taste.

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