Greg Smutzer, director of the Laboratory of Gustatory Psychophysics in the Biology Department of Temple’s College of Science and Technology, has created taste strips similar to breath-freshening strips, but these edible strips contain one of the five basic tastes that are detected by humans — sweet, sour, salty, bitter and monosodium glutamate, which is also known as umami taste.
This research, “A Test for Measuring Gustatory Function,” has been published in the June 2 online “Ahead of Print” edition of The Laryngoscope (http://www.thelaryngoscope.com), the journal of the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society.
The idea was born when a lab equipment repairman who was a friend of Smutzer’s stopped by the laboratory more than four years ago and offered him one of the new breath-freshening strips.
He said, “You have to try one of these,” Smutzer recalled. “I had never seen the strips before. But as soon as he showed them to me, one of my first thoughts was, this technology would be ideal for a taste test because it is so simple to use.”
Smutzer starts by using a combination of two polymers, pullulan and Methocel. His strips are created by dissolving the polymers — in the form of powders — in warm water and then allowing the solution to cool to room temperature. Added into the solution is a small amount of a taste stimulus that will give each strip the desired taste: sodium chloride for salty, sucrose for sweet, ascorbic acid for sour, quinine for bitter, and monosodium glutamate for umami taste.
Once the solution is cool, it is then poured onto Teflon-coated pans and allowed to dry five to six hours in order to produce a clear, thin film. When dry, the films are carefully removed, and cut into one-inch-square strips.
He said that pullulan, a major ingredient of the Listerine breath strips, is tasteless and dissolves within seconds in the mouth. Methocel is added in small amounts to increase the tensile strength of the pullulan films.
The development of the taste strips solves a problem for researchers. According to Smutzer, no standardized method for rapidly measuring taste function in humans is currently available, and taste norms for the human population as a function of age and sex have yet to be determined.
“What is typically done in the lab is a ‘sip and spit’ test, where a liquid solution is prepared that contains dissolved tastant,” Smutzer explained. “You then place a small amount of the solution, maybe half an ounce, into a small cup for the test subject to place into their mouth, swish around and then spit it out.”
But this type of test is difficult to administer outside the lab because the solutions have a very short shelf life and are not very portable, he said. Another big problem with the liquid test is that it cannot be effectively used to examine selected regions of the tongue, such as just one side, the front or the back of the tongue.
“It is very difficult to do regional testing with the liquid test because it is tough to concentrate liquid in just one area of the mouth,” said Smutzer, who is hoping to commercialize the taste strips. “We can alter the size or thickness of these strips, place them on a desired area of the tongue and allow saliva to dissolve them without causing the tastant to spread over the surface of the tongue.”
Since different parts of the tongue may respond to different tastes, or may respond more or less strongly to the same taste stimulus. Smutzer said his taste strips could be used to develop detailed taste maps of the tongue surface, a project he plans to examine in the future.
Another major advantage of this technology, according to Smutzer, is that the strips can measure thresholds for tastants at levels that are from 10 to 100 times lower when compared to a standard “sip and spit” test. These lower threshold values for sweet, sour, salty, bitter or umami taste could be useful for examining taste disturbances in clinical populations where such disturbances have not been previously identified.
Smutzer added that his strips, which are stored at room temperature and have been used up to six months after being produced, could also be beneficial to the pharmaceutical industry, since certain medications can create temporary taste disturbances. He said that subjects could be tested with taste strips during clinical trials to determine whether new drugs or therapies interfere with taste function.
The research was funded through a business grant from the National Institutes of Health to Smutzer and his business partner and collaborator, Lloyd Hastings, who owns Osmic Enterprises Inc. in Cincinnati.
Preston M. Moretz | newswise
Speed data for the brain’s navigation system
06.12.2016 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences
07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences