Senomyx Ready to Commercialize Sweetness Enhancer

10/23/09Follow @bvbigelow

Senomyx (NASDAQ: SNMX), the San Diego company using biotechnology to develop proprietary flavor enhancers and blockers, says that S6973, a compound it has been developing to enhance the intensity of sucrose, can now be commercialized.

In a statement today, Senomyx says it has learned that an expert panel that operates under the auspices of the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association has designated S6973 as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) under federal regulations that govern food additives. The designation follows an official review of data concerning the compound that Senomyx submitted to the industry group. With the GRAS designation in hand, Senomyx says it can now begin commercialization of the sweetness enhancer.

Senomyx says S6973 enables foodmakers to reduce sugar in foods and drinks by as much as 50 percent and still provide an equivalent sweet taste. In the statement, Senomyx CEO Kent Snyder calls the GRAS determination “one of Senomyx’s most important achievements and represents a significant commercial opportunity for the Company.”

When Senomyx announced in August that it was expanding its collaboration with Switzerland’s Firmenich, Senomyx spokeswoman Gwen Rosenberg told me that a $10 million milestone payment would be due when S6973 is ready for commercialization. The company was expecting that to happen as early as the first quarter of 2010. Firmenich now must decide if it wants to commercialize S6973, Rosenberg says.

Two other food companies also have rights to the compound, but Senomyx has not disclosed those partners.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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