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7 July 2020

Sweet, sweeter... Grab the Candybox with BRAIN

How industry partners can use BRAIN's HTC technology to discover natural sweeteners and sweetness enhancers

Competition in the food market is fierce − and to hold your own among the many products that fill supermarket aisles, you need a good marketing concept − and/or an innovative product. But what makes an innovative food product? This, for example: An innovative product contains an ingredient that contributes to a certain property of the food, but is healthier than the ingredient traditionally used for that purpose. Or: A novel ingredient can be extracted or produced more sustainably than an ingredient that has been used up to now. Consumers are paying more and more attention to environmental and health aspects and the industry is looking for innovative solutions.

Sugar makes you (un)happy

Many of us grew up in a time when pocket money was largely spent on sweets. How we stuffed ourselves! The sweeter, the better - and the harder it was to stop. Some of us may still feel that way today. (By the way, it helps a lot if you want to be a role model for your children at home... )

There is a danger that excessive sugar consumption will cause a kind of readjustment in our neural reward system, thereby disconnecting eating behavior from actual calorie requirements. So we continue to eat sugar even though we do not need the calories. Excessive sugar consumption can result in overweight; secondary diseases are often type II diabetes, obesity or the metabolic syndrome. Depending on its severity, it can be a disaster for those affected.

But most people find it difficult to do without sugar. The body has become so accustomed to it. That's why food manufacturers are looking for alternative sweeteners or sweetness enhancers that are less harmful or not harmful at all to the human organism. However, our taste buds are not easily duped, and it’s a real challenge to find alternative sweeteners and sweetness enhancers that "meet the taste" of consumers and are also of natural origin, if possible.

Search and find: Industry partnership with BRAIN

BRAIN has been active in the field of taste research for several years and has developed a cell-based technology, the HTC (Human Tongue Cell) technology. Among other things, this makes it possible to identify (alternative) sweeteners and sweetener enhancers. As part of the DOLCE industrial project, industrial partnerships have been established on the basis of this technology and the participants have jointly discovered and evaluated new natural sweeteners and sweetness enhancers ("Natural Sweet Solutions").

In the course of establishing the new cell lines for the proprietary, cell-based HTC assay system, BRAIN AG has discovered natural substances that can be used to optimize taste, among other things, in product development. Patent applications have been filed for these substances, as well as for formulations based on them, which are now offered to customers in the food industry for testing in their products. In addition to natural sweeteners, the substances include sweetness enhancers, natural “salt substitutes”, flavor molecules and modifiers, which for example improve the taste of salt-reduced products.

In the search for sweetness enhancers and sweetener substitutes, BRAIN has together with food industry partners identified more than 100 substances as "hot candidates". Once an industrial partner has decided on one of these candidates, the substance is developed together with the industrial partner. The new substances are of natural origin; they mainly are based on an edible resource and they have the potential to be produced sustainably.

Shared costs, shared risk and one step ahead of the competition

What are the benefits of participating in the DOLCE program? Within the DOLCE program, the risk and cost of finding an alternative natural sweetener or sweetness enhancer is shared among several food manufacturers, according to the food or beverage product category previously selected. DOLCE partners receive preferential access to the selected substances and can try them out immediately as a sweetener or sweetness enhancer for their purposes or products before they are approved. Once the substance is officially approved as a food additive, the product can be placed on the market immediately.

For further information please contact us:

Dr. Katja Riedel
Business Development Manager Nutrition


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