Electronic tongue for pharmaceutical analytics: quantification of tastes and masking effects

Legin, Andrey; Rudnitskaya, Alisa; Clapham, David; Seleznev, Boris; Lord, Kevin; Vlasov, Yuri
September 2004
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Sep2004, Vol. 380 Issue 1, p36
Academic Journal
The organoleptic aspects of pharmaceutical formulations affect their acceptability to tile patient and hence can have an important effect on concordance with treatment. Objective evaluation of these aspects, particularly the taste of the formulation and the drug substance it contains, is difficult. Whilst volunteer taste panels can be used to good effect their utility is limited. particularly during very early stage development when the toxicological profile of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is yet to be established in detail. A potentiometric “electronic tongue” has been applied to analyse a variety of 41 individual substances and mixtures of particular interest for pharmaceutical research and development. The electronic tongue (ET) was capable of discriminating between substances with different taste modalities and could also distinguish different substances eliciting the same basic taste; the ET is promising in terms of quantifying the content of each substance and has an ability to detect nuances of the basic taste (e.g. lingering or short-lived). After calibration the electronic tongue was successfully applied to predicting bitterness strength of binary mixtures with a sweetener in terms of “apparent” or “perceived” quinine content. In order to render a formulation palatable it is often necessary to mask the (usually bitter) taste of the API by the addition of masking agents such as sweeteners and flavours. The ET proved capable of distinguishing between formulations with different levels of sweetener and/or flavour in a manner that was consistent with their masking efficiency as perceived by a small human taste panel. A suitably calibrated ET could have the benefit of providing the pharmaceutical formulator with reliable data concerning the taste of the product quickly and with a reduced need to ask volunteers to taste active pharmaceutical samples. Early development activities could be facilitated when human tasting is usually not possible in the absence of the required toxicological data.


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