COLUMBIA, Mo.—A molecule related to flavor enhancers found in soy sauce may be an important component in the next generation of medications that stop HIV from spreading, according to a recent study published in the journal Retrovirology.
Researchers began studying the molecule EFdA, which was discovered inadvertently in 2001 by a Japanese soy sauce company while trying to enhance the flavor of their product. The flavor enhancer is part of the family of compounds called “nucleoside analogues" which is very similar to existing drugs for the treatment of HIV and other viruses. EFdA samples were sent for further testing, which confirmed EFdA’s potential usefulness against HIV.
For HIV patients being treated with anti-AIDS medications, resistance to drug therapy regimens is commonplace. Often, patients develop resistance to first-line drug therapies, such as Tenofovir, and are forced to adopt more potent medications.
“Patients who are treated for HIV infections with Tenofovir, eventually develop resistance to the drugs that prevent an effective or successful defense against the virus," said Stefan Sarafianos, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, University of Missouri School of Medicine, and virologist, Bond Life Sciences Center, MU. “EFdA, the molecule we are studying, is less likely to cause resistance in HIV patients because it is more readily activated and is less quickly broken down by the body as similar existing drugs."
In their latest study, University of Missouri researchers, along with researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institutes of Health, helped define how EFdA works on a molecular level. Using virology techniques and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), they pieced together the exact structure and configuration of the molecule. The compounds are currently being tested for usefulness as potential HIV-halting drugs.
“The structure of this compound is very important because it is a lock-and-key kind of mechanism that can be recognized by the target," Sarafianos said. “Not only does EFdA work on resistant HIV, it works better on HIV that has not become Tenofovir resistant."
Flavor enhancers may not always be the ticket to treating life-threatening diseases, but they can certainly aid in sodium reduction—an issue being addressed across the food and beverage industry.
Often, lowering sodium content requires an ingredient-systems approach. Some systems can fool the tongue into perceiving more salt than what is actually present. For example, nonsodium glutamates—such as monoammonium glutamate and monopotassium glutamate—can deliver umami without additional sodium. Umami is the savory taste of proteins that have been broken down in to amino acids and nucleotides, and can amplify the perception of salt. Download “Flavorful Sodium-Reduced Foods" In the Food Product Design Content Library for a deeper look into flavor enhancers and sodium-reduction techniques.