Biotech company Linguagen has been awarded a patent for its 'bitter blockers' - compounds that inhibit the bitter taste response.
The company claims this is the first time a molecular biology approach has been used to identify compounds that decrease the perception of bitterness caused by bitter tasting molecules.
"Receiving patent protection on these bitter blockers is an important milestone for our company, as it moves us closer to producing food and beverage products containing these compounds," said Richard McGregor, senior scientist at Linguagen.
Linguagen describes the 'bitter blockers' as natural compounds and suggests they can be added to foods, beverages, oral healthcare products and oral pharmaceuticals to decrease the bitter taste.
Linguagen said it is working with other companies to incorporate the compounds into various bitter tasting compositions. Plans are underway to continue screening libraries of compounds to identify further high potency bitter blockers.
The company says the bitter blockers will improve patient compliance with drugs, particularly for pediatric and geriatric populations, which often require medication in liquid form, by taking away the bitter taste. The company is also claiming its product could help tackle obesity: many processed foods contain high amounts of sodium and sugar to mask bitter flavors. leading to the major public health problems, hypertension and obesity. Use of Linguagen's bitter blockers will result in decreases in the quantity of sodium and sugar added to processed foods and will create healthier products, it claims.
Regulatory clearance for the first of Linguagen's lead bitter blockers in foods and beverages is anticipated shortly.