Redpoint Bio reports progress in Givaudan flavor partnership

By Chris Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Taste

A year after signing a R&D deal with Givaudan, RedPoint Bio has
patented the use of its technology for discovering ways to modulate
the way the human body detects taste.

The taste technology developer's method is used to identify modulators of the TRPM5 ion channel - the pathway that transmits the 'taste' of food to the different taste cells for each of the three basic taste qualities - sweet, bitter and savory. The breakthrough will allow the company to help Givaudan create new taste enhancers. According to Redpoint Bio, without the TRPM5 channel, it is possible to taste sour and salty flavor but not the other three - observations that led the company to the understanding that tastes could be enhanced - or blocked - by modulating the way this channel works. Raymond Salemme, chief executive of Redpoint Bio, told that the company had discovered novel compounds that can specifically inhibit or enhance TRPM5 - and whose efficacy can be tested using the newly patented technology. "Our TRPM5 inhibitors are currently under development as bitter blockers useful in oral pharmaceutical formulations and in foods with bitter tastes, such as processed soy and cocoa, and TRPM5 enhancers are being developed for their potential as flavor enhancers,"​ he said. Salemme said that there was still some way to go before the first of these compounds could be commercialised by Givaudan, however. "We are one year into a three-and-a-half year program of research and development with Givaudan, but we expect to have developed a compound that can be effectively used as a flavor enhancer by the end of that agreement,"​ he said. He said that the deal with Givaudan gave the flavor company exclusive access to compounds designed to modulate TRPM5, but that there were other channels, affecting other taste areas, which Redpoint was also working on. "Several other ion channels, closely related to TRPM5, have recently been discovered that mediate the taste of many spices, such as cinnamon, pepper, mustard, and menthol." "We now have identified novel small molecules that specifically modulate taste sensations generated through these otherTRP-family ion channels. The direct and precise regulation ofTRPchannel functions afforded by our compounds will provide a level of control over taste never before possible in flavoring systems." ​ Using technology developed primarily for pharmaceutical research, Redpoint Bio can test literally hundreds of thousands of compounds to see how they affect the taste channels. "We can modify the structure of the compounds to improve, and find related compounds to see how they work, with the aim of turning them eventually into flavor enhancers or blockers that can used as ingredients after undergoing the GRAS [Generally Rrecognized as Safe] affirmation process." ​ Salemme said that one of the major advantages of Redpoint Bio's technology was that it focused on a very specific way of transmitting flavor signals. "We have focused on a very particular target, but there are many different ways of transmitting the signal that food is sweet or sour. We have found a good one, we believe, which should allow us to enhance or block certain flavors without affecting others." ​ Although the testing procedure involves a certain amount of genetic modification, Salemme stressed that this would have no impact on any finished flavor product. "We can test both natural and synthetic compounds, and there would certainly be no need to mention genetic modification on the label of any food using any eventual ingredients we help develop,"​ he said. Despite the significant potential from Redpoint Bio's technology, Salemme has no regrets about signing an exclusive deal with Givaudan to develop ingredients. "We felt that they would be the best partner for us to help us drive into as many markets as possible. They are present everywhere in the world." ​ And Redpoint has other key agreements with industry giants. "We have an agreement with Coca-Cola working on an entirely different area, and there is potential for other link ups in other areas,"​ Salemme said. "We are particularly proud of the fact that with Givaudan and Coca-Cola we have teamed up with two companies that have their own very strong in-house flavor development teams - evidence we think that only we can do what we do."

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