System finds way to block bitter taste

by Jeff Gelski
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A new molecular method identifies chemical compounds in foods that activate human bitter taste receptors.

"Identification of bitter taste compounds and their corresponding receptors opens doors to screening for specific bitter receptor inhibitors," said Dr. Liquan Huang, a molecular biologist at Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia. "Such inhibitors can be used to suppress unpleasantness and thereby increase palatability and acceptance of health-promoting bitter foods, such as green vegetables or soy products."

Dr. Huang served as lead author for a story on the study published in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (Vol. 365, Issue 4, Jan. 25, 2008).

The study involved researchers from Monell and Tokyo University of Agriculture. They examined "orphan receptors," which are human bitter receptors that contribute to bitter taste perception even though science has not yet identified which compounds bind to the receptors and activate them. The study "deorphanized" several bitter receptors by showing that peptides from fermented foods such as cheese may stimulate the receptors.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, February 5, 2008, starting on Page 61. Click here to search that archive.

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