The businesses announced the plans today. During a three-year collaborative period Senomyx will use its proprietary screening technologies to develop novel compounds that may be used by Firmenich on an exclusive basis worldwide as ingredients that impart a cool taste.
Gwen Rosenberg, vice president of corporate communications at Senomyx, told FoodNavigator-USA.com: "A cool taste is similar to menthol, and it can also be a cool refreshing taste. The potential market is the current market for agents such as menthol and the WS [cooling agent] products."
Swiss fragrance and flavor firm Firmenich will fund the research and, upon commercialization, Senomyx will be entitled to royalties.
Through the collaboration, the companies hope to discover new solutions to problems currently facing the development of ingredients providing a cooling taste.
"Many currently available cooling agents have deficiencies that restrict their utility, including weak cooling characteristics, bitter off-tastes, limited solubility, and non-proprietary status," said Patrick Firmenich, CEO of Firmenich.
"Senomyx's cutting edge technologies provide a unique methodology for seeking new cooling flavor ingredients that do not have these drawbacks. Furthermore, the combined use of our proprietary delivery systems should further enhance the benefits of the new cooling compounds in certain applications."
Senomyx has set up a Cool Flavor Program, which thus far has been little publicized. It is one of six flavor programs for the discovery and development of new flavor ingredients.
The company has developed a proprietary high-throughput screening assay using the receptor associated with cool and menthol taste sensations.
Through this method of analysis, ingredients samples can be screened for the cool taste effect. The assay has been validated through the identification of several compounds that provided a cool taste and appeared significantly more potent than menthol, WS-3, and other commonly used cooling agents in a threshold taste test for cooling.
Senomyx intends to use the assay to discover innovative cooling flavor systems that meet the needs of Firmenich's customers.
Kent Snyder, president and CEO of Senomyx, said: "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 flavors ingredients in confectioneries, food and beverages."
Senomyx is currently collaborating with six leading packaged food and beverage companies to develop and commercialize flavor ingredients. So far it has entered into product discovery and development collaborations with Ajinomoto, Cadbury Schweppes, Campbell Soup Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, and Solae.
Last year, Firmenich acquired Danisco's Flavor Division in a collaboration over taste and texture solutions.