Senomyx enters license agreement, receives patents on taste receptors

by Jeff Gelski
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Senomyx, Inc., San Diego, this month made two announcements related to its plans for flavor ingredient innovations. On Jan. 3 the company entered into a collaborative research agreement with Firmenich that concerns flavor ingredients intended to provide a cooling tasting effect. On Jan. 14 Senomyx said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had issued the company five patents relating to the human umami and sweet taste receptors.

The license agreement with Firmenich, a fragrance and flavor company, will involve a three-year collaborative period. Senomyx will use its screening technologies to discover and develop compounds. Firmenich then may use the compounds on an exclusive basis worldwide as ingredients that impart a cool taste in flavor systems.

Firmenich has agreed to pay Senomyx research fees and specified payments upon the achievement of milestones. Senomyx will be entitled to royalties upon commercialization.

"After careful consideration, we determined that working with Firmenich could provide us with the best opportunity to maximize the long-term revenue potential of our Cool Flavor Program," said Kent Snyder, president and chief executive officer of Senomyx. "We believe that Firmenich offers key strengths in the areas of product development, proprietary formulation systems and manufacturing that may allow us to accelerate commercialization of the novel cool flavors we may discover.

"In addition, we believe their capabilities and existing strong customer relationships may facilitate market acceptance for the use of these new flavor ingredients in confectioneries, foods and beverages, as well as oral care and O.T.C. health care products."

The addition of the five patents makes Senomyx the owner or exclusive licensee of 113 issued patents and 371 patent-pending applications.

"Each individual has only one type of sweet taste receptor and one type of umami receptor," said Dr. Mark Zoller, chief scientific officer and executive vice-president of discovery and development for Senomyx. He added the new patents strengthen the company’s proprietary position in using taste receptors in screening assays designed to identify new flavor ingredients that induce or modulate sweet and savory tastes.

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