Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/12/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: January 1, 1996, marked the date on which the first "baby-boomers" turned 50 years old. It has been predicted that 1.2 billion people worldwide (25% of the population of North America and 12% of the developing world) will be 60 years of age or older by the year 2025. Most physiology text books indicate that humans experience a reduction in their sense of smell and taste during aging. This decrease in sensory ability affects more than just food enjoyment; it can lead to malnutrition. Certain groups of hospitalized individuals also have a diminished desire for foods, particularly those that are important to their recovery. Use of flavor enhancers has the potential for reversing the problems associated with declining sensory perception. We have identified a natural flavor enhancer which we have named STEP (savory taste enhancing peptide). Our experiments led to development of a theory for STEP's action at the tongue's taste receptor. From the theory, we developed a new compound named NExT STEP (new extra-tasty STEP), which has a taste-enhancing effect like STEP and also has a lingering sensation (in one case for over 30 minutes). Continued research in this area should result in food creation and formulation that will prevent and potentially reverse, nutritional deficiencies in the elderly. It should also lead to creation of products beneficial to medical patients having decreased food intake desire.
Technical Abstract: In 1978, Drs. Yamasaki and Maekawa reported finding a small linear peptide in the extract of beef hydrolyzed with the plant protease, papain. The peptide had a "delicious" flavor. The sequence of the delicious peptide was later reported by these authors as "Lys-Gly-Asp-Glu-Glu-Ser-Leu-Ala." Later, Drs. Tamura and Okai and colleagues characterized the taste of the "delicious" peptide and many of the fragments of the peptide. At the same time, Spanier and colleagues demonstrated that the delicious peptide occurred as a natural product of endogenous aging beef. "Delicious" peptide was renamed "BMP" since it was found in (B)eef, it enhanced the (M)eaty flavor of the product, and it was a (P)eptide. For several years BMP became the accepted name of this small linear, 847-848 dalton peptide. However, its name led to significant confusion since the acronym made many believe that BMP had a beefy or meaty taste rather than activity as a flavor enhancer. BMP was renamed recently to STEP, representing (S)avory, (T)aste-(E)nhancing (P)eptide and a molecular mechanism for the flavor enhancing activity of STEP was proposed. NExT STEP [(N)ew (Ex)tra-(T)asty STEP] a new flavor enhancer that exhibits the properties of STEP and the added property of a lingering effect was developed based on the proposed reaction mechanism of STEP at the receptor. This paper will discuss the proposed mechanism of these and other flavor enhancing peptidic materials.