There are five basic tastes: bitter, sweet, umami, sour, and salty. They are perceived via taste receptor cells located on different part of the tongue.
A diet with excessive sugar or salt may cause health problems. Molecules that can enhance sweetness or saltiness are interesting because they allow to reduce the use of the condiments. Umami or savoury taste is desired to make food tasty, therefore enhancers are of interest. For bitterness and sourness, both activators or blockers may be sought depending on the gustative context. For instance in brewery, one may look for a certain degree of bitterness on one hand. On the other hand, we may want to mask the bitterness of certain food.
Different types of gustative receptors exist. Taste receptors TAS1 and 2 are involved in the signaling of bitterness, sweetness and umami sensory. These receptors belong to the well-known family of G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCR). Saltiness is linked to the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC).
In case of sourness, it seems that several types of channels may be involved.
Additionally, trigeminal (hot and cool) and fat properties can contribute to the taste perception. They are mediated respectively by Transient receptor potential channel and several protein including GPCR.
All these sensory properties offer opportunities to create innovative ingredients to modulate the taste
perceptions. Greenpharma can help customers to achieve that by proposing :
- research products such as natural product libraries for assays focused on taste receptors or
- using in silico technology to select putative molecules modulating taste receptors. We combine two approaches based on the structural information on the receptors and/or known ligands.
Our proprietary database GPDB is used as a source of natural molecules for virtual screening and to retrieve the plants – or other type of organisms – that produce the compounds. Finally, our development platform and our sourcing service will accompany our customers in the scale-up.