Development of a novel cell based bitter taste assessment assay

Taste evaluation of drugs and their taste masking efficiency is one of the key considerations in the development of oral medicines as it greatly influences patient compliance, which subsequently affects therapeutic outcome. Animal taste testing is based on complex surgical procedures or long experimental protocols which cause animal distress. Work from our laboratory has fully characterised bovine taste receptor cell line for morphological, histochemical , protein and pharmacological markers. We have developed a cryo-freeze and revival protocol which will ensure regular availability of BTRC cell line for further developmental work and overcome the limitations of cell supply and minimise batch variability that is commonly associated with primary cells. We have shown through cells grown on cover slips that a differential cell based response for Ca2+ ions and cAMP is obtained to distinguish different concentration and type of tastants.

The current proposal aims to build on these findings to develop a quantitative calcium release linked highthroughput assay to differentiate the bitter taste response between different drugs.The project will exploit these findings and aims to develop flow cytometry based high throughput bitter taste differentiating assay that can be used to determine bitterness intensity through the evaluation of EC50 for individual tastants. The proposed project will also investigate the suitability of ion pair complexation studied in our lab as a simple strategy to determine the taste for water insoluble bitter tasting drugs. The success of the project will provide a high thoughput and cost effective assay that will accelerate drug development and will replace animal testing.

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PhD Studentship




Aston University

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Award date

Jul 2016 - Jun 2019

Grant amount