Refined Understanding of Human Taste and Taste Modulation

Immortalized Human Taste Cell Lines Provide New Insights into Taste Reception and Help Improve Nutraceutical Development

02-May-2012 - Germany

BRAIN AG discloses a breakthrough in human cellbased assay technology to identify and develop novel taste modulators and nutraceuticals. For the first time, researchers at BRAIN succeeded in establishing immortalized primary human taste cell lines derived from taste papillae of the human tongue. Human taste cell lines will allow researchers to investigate natural responses of taste cells to taste molecules and to launch novel development programs to identify taste and satiety modulators.

Changing nutritional habits is difficult and consumer preferences for products and brands are firmly established. As a consequence, BRAIN decided to use molecular biology technologies to develop novel taste modulators and nutraceuticals from natural resources.

Conventional, recombinant screening technologies led to the discovery of taste modulators but also revealed drawbacks. Ideally, human taste cells should be used to emulate the complexity of human taste response to taste modulators in a most natural way. However, human taste cells are short-lived and don’t proliferate and thus escaped approaches to establish homogenous taste cell lines with defined properties, a prerequisite to establishing comprehensive research and screening programs. Research efforts at BRAIN are now bearing fruit and bring screening technology a significant step closer to this ideal.

“We used biopsy samples from human lingual epithelium containing taste buds from fungiform, foliate and circumvallate papillae to generate human taste cell lines”, states Dr. Andreas Hochheimer, who is heading this research and technology development program at BRAIN. “We obtained several immortalized human taste cell lines suitable for investigating endogenous gustatory responses of human taste cells as well as for launching screening programs to identify taste modulators in a highthroughput fashion. These cell lines share many features with taste cells from other model organisms that have been studied in the past but also provide valuable new insights into human taste reception and signal transduction mechanisms.”

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