Aromyx Technology

Olfactory genomics in an easy-to-use commercial solution

We have designed a cost effective and stable way to put the human olfactory receptors on a bioassay, avoiding the use of live cell lines and in a disposable bioassay format customers can use on their own premises.

Unlike chemical sensors or mass spectrometry, the Aromyx EssenceChip system shows the biochemical signals that a cup of coffee, a sniff of perfume or a glass of wine send to the brain, as mediated by the human nose and tongue.

The bioassay reveals the same biochemical signals that the nose and tongue send to the brain in response to a flavor or fragrance. It scientifically records flavors and fragrances, with reproducible results. The output of our bioassay has a direct correlation to what a person smells and what the brain experiences.

The Aromyx approach maintains both the sensitivity and specificity — the ability to discriminate between scents and flavors — of the human nose and tongue. The collection of biochemical signals is represented by a digital aromagraph.

 

G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) control much of the interactions between cells and cells and their environment. GPCRs are the class of proteins at the root of our five sensory systems: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. GPCRs and the signal transduction systems of which they are part, amplify extracellular signals (e.g., the striking of a single photon on the retina) into a cascade of actions within the cell. Yet, these biological sensors are remarkably tunable by the cell to modulate their response over a wider dynamic range of signal than any man-made sensor yet built.

GPCRs are transmembrane proteins with an extracellular domain that binds to hormones or chemical ligands (taste and smell) in the environment, or picks up physical or chemical changes in the cell’s environment. The specific signal to which the GPCR is receptive, imparts a conformational change in the GPCR, which transduces this event across the cell membrane to an associated intracellular G-protein. Under the proper conditions, this G-protein transduces the signal to yet another associated enzyme. This enzyme, adenylate cyclase in the case of olfactory GPCRs, turns on and starts producing many copies of a secondary messenger (cAMP in the case of adenylate cyclase) in response to the triggered GPCR.

 

A single binding or triggering event at a GPCR can trigger tens of thousands of copies of the secondary messenger in a very short time, amplifying the signal inside the cell. The secondary messenger molecules diffuse rapidly throughout the cell delivering their chemical information to other systems triggering the cellular response to the extracellular stimulus triggering the GPCR. In the case of our senses, the cAMP triggers calcium ion channels to open which results in an electrical impulse being transferred to the brain.

Aromyx scientists are working with researchers at Stanford University’s Beckman Center for Cell Sciences Imaging Facility (CSIF) to visualize the cellular localization of the Aromyx engineered human olfactory receptor proteins and associated signal transduction partner proteins. Using the Beckman Center’s state-of-the-art transmission electron microscopes, our scientists can verify the production and correct localization of our human olfactory proteins to ensure the proper function of the Aromyx sensor system.