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Abrupt end to Givaudan collaboration with Redpoint Bio

By Sarah Hills , 08-Apr-2009

Givaudan has terminated its alliance with Redpoint Bio Corporation to develop novel sweetness enhancers and bitter blockers because it said a key milestone has not been achieved.

The three-and-a-half year R&D programme was signed in March 2007 and stemmed from an increasing need for tastier foods that are lower in salt, fat and sugar.

The collaboration and licensing agreement was for the development and commercialisation of compounds that enhance sweetness or savoury sensation and compounds that block or desensitise bitter taste for use in the food and beverage industry.

But now both Redpoint and the Swiss-based flavour and fragrance firm have confirmed it has ended.

A spokesman for Givaudan Flavours told FoodNavigator.com: “This investigative effort has been focused on identifying novel sweetness enhancers and bitter blockers.

“This concept provided an alternative and complementary approach to research on new taste molecule discovery carried out within Givaudan’s laboratories.

“Although some progress has been realized, a certain key project milestone has not been achieved.

“Furthermore, Givaudan’s rapidly developing proprietary salt reduction and sweetness enhancement initiatives under its TasteSolutions programme have yielded commercially successful results which negate the need for the partnership with Redpoint Bio Corp to continue.”

The spokesman was unable to elaborate on what the “key milestone” was ahead of publication.

Givaudan was reported to have paid an upfront technology fee of €840,000 to Redpoint as well as providing research funding of up to €7.5m.

Dr Ray Salemme, CEO of Redpoint Bio said it was disappointed with Givaudan’s decision but added: “We believe that Redpoint's technology platform continues to provide opportunities to discover new products for both the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries.

“We recognize that due to strategic changes in focus, Givaudan was not able to continue with our collaboration. However, we continue to maintain a positive relationship with Givaudan.”

Salemme said it would also continue to advance its taste modulation discovery programmes and investigate potential therapeutic applications for its compounds for the treatment of diabetes and obesity.

Progress

In March last year the US-based biotechnology firm announced that it had patented the use of its technology for discovering ways to modulate the way the human body detects taste.

Its method is used to identify modulators of the TRPM5 ion channel - the pathway that transmits the 'taste' of food to the different taste cells for each of the three basic taste qualities - sweet, bitter and savoury.

According to Redpoint, without the TRPM5 channel, it is possible to taste sour and salty flavour but not the other three. This led the company to the understanding that tastes could be enhanced or blocked by modulating the way this channel works.

Redpoint said at the time that the deal with Givaudan was to give the flavour company exclusive access to compounds designed to modulate TRPM5.

It also expected to have developed a compound that can be effectively used a flavour enhancer by the end of their joint agreement.

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