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Senomyx reports growth balanced with R&D costs

By Clarisse Douaud , 24-Apr-2008

Senomyx has reported a 98 percent increase in revenue for the first quarter of 2008 over the comparable period in the previous year, owing to the flavor specialist's collaboration with Ajinomoto and two new partnerships.



The firm extended discovery and development collaborations with Coca-Cola and Nestle, and as well engaged in a new partnership with Firmenich.



Revenue for Q1 2008 stood at $6.1mn, compared to $3.1mn for Q1 2007.



However, operating expenses increased to $11.5mn for the same period in 2008, versus $10.6mn in 2007. A large part of this was related to research and development costs.



Senomyx has developed proprietary taste receptor technologies for flavor ingredients in savory, sweet, salt, bitter, and cooling areas, and has research and development agreements set up with other large food and ingredient companies such as Cadbury Schweppes, Campbell Soup, Coca-Cola and Solae. As such, it has invested heavily in research and patents.



"The first quarter financial results met the company's expectations," said John Poyhonen, Senomyx senior vice president. "We ended the first quarter with a strong balance sheet that includes $55.4mn in cash and no debt, and Senomyx is well positioned financially to continue discovery and development activities for our novel flavor ingredients."



A highlight this quarter, according to the company, has been its sweet enhancer program aimed at identifying ingredients that allow a significant reduction of sweeteners in food and beverages.



"A considerable accomplishment was the identification of a new, potent enhancer of sucrose, which is common table sugar," said Kent Snyder, president and CEO of Senomyx. "This new enhancer provides the greatest sucrose enhancement achieved to date by allowing for approximately 50 percent reduction of sucrose while maintaining the desired sweetness in taste tests."



The company also has savory enhancer and cool programs. In January, it entered into a three-year partnership with Firmenich to develop novel flavor ingredients that have a cooling taste effect.



Under that agreement, Senomyx is set to use its proprietary screening technologies to develop novel compounds to be used by the Swiss fragrance and flavor firm on an exclusive basis worldwide.



In a similar manner to the Nestle deal, Firmenich is funding research and, upon commercialization, Senomyx will be entitled to royalties.



Also in January, Senomyx announced the addition of five new patents to its intellectual property portfolio. These covered the use of bitter and savory taste receptors.



Senomyx indicated that these patented technologies would encourage the discovery of new ingredients using methods more efficient than traditional flavor discovery approaches.



Previously, the company had used a patented umami receptor assay to identify novel savory ingredients that were incorporated into food products, some of which were marketed by Nestle.



The five patents include composition claims covering savory and sweet receptors, as well as claims directed to T1R1, T1R2 and T1R3 nucleic acid sequences, which encode the receptors.



Competition in the $10.4bn global flavor and fragrance sector is rapidly increasing.



Senomyx now has 113 patents and 371 pending in the US, Europe, and around the world.

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