Cellulose-Based Strips for Human Taste Evaluation

Period of Performance: 07/17/2009 - 08/31/2011


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Osmic Enterprises, Inc.
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Taste disorders have significant consequences for humans, and these consequences include impaired quality of life, increased health or safety risks from spoiled foods, compromised vocational abilities, and altered food choices and consumption patterns that can adversely impact health or worsen underlying illnesses. At present, no clinical tests for assessing gustatory function in humans are commercially available. The main objective of this proposal is to develop a clinical taste test that is portable, easy to administer, has standardized norms, possesses a long shelf-life, and can be made available to physicians and clinicians at a low cost. This test is based on the novel utilization of cellulose/pullulan-based "edible film strips" (EFS) as a vehicle for administering taste stimuli to the oral cavity. Based on the same concept as commercially available strips for freshening the breath, these strips are extremely well suited for use as taste stimuli. They dissolve almost immediately when placed on the tongue, show minimal volatility of released taste stimuli, and provide the possibility of regional testing of the tongue. This proposal concerns the development of three tests for measuring gustatory function: 1) a brief taste test that is suitable for screening purposes;2) a detection threshold test that will provide a more sensitive assessment of gustatory function;and 3) a multi-quality recognition threshold test that provides both quantitative and qualitative information. Three specific aims are proposed. Specific aim I concerns the development of EFS-based taste tests. This specific aim includes optimization of strip composition for use in examining gustatory function, selection of the appropriate concentrations of taste stimuli in strips, and refinement of the test protocols. The second specific aim concerns development of standardized norms for the three tests by administering them to a large sample population so that age, sex, and smoker-nonsmoker status is considered. These statistical norms will then be used to relate an individual's performance to that of the population in general. Traditional "sip and spit" tests will also be administered to a cohort of these subjects to determine the correlation between the two types of taste tests. The third specific aim will evaluate the sensitivity and suitability of EFS-based taste tests in assessing gustatory dysfunction in clinical populations. Test sensitivity in detecting gustatory deficits will be examined by administering taste blockers, e.g., chlorhexidine, to the subjects before testing. Test suitability for use in a clinic will be evaluated by placing the tests in ENT clinics and allowing users to provide feedback. Test validity will be investigated whenever the possibility arises in the clinic. The successful completion of this study will result in the first commercially available taste test for examining gustatory function in humans at both the clinical and basic research level. Taste disorders have significant consequences for humans including impaired quality of life and altered food choices that can adversely impact health. The development of a standardized taste test based upon "edible films strips" will greatly improve the means for detecting and quantifying taste disorders in patients and facilitate treatment.