By John George  –  Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
July 21 2023

Monell Chemical Senses Center

The Philadelphia nonprofit research institute has joined an international public-private partnership, led by Gilead Sciences, that is working to develop pediatric formulations of the HIV medicines tenofovir and sofosbuvir designed to eliminate or reduce the bitterness of the two drugs.

“The goal is to increase compliance in taking medication among children, who in general are particularly sensitive to bitter taste,” said Nancy E. Rawson, Monell’s acting director and president.

Rawson said the collaboration will leverage Monell’s expertise in human taste biology and novel human taste cell culture technology.

Health experts estimate that globally 1.7 million children under the age of 15 live with HIV. Just over 50% take antiretroviral treatment compared to 76% of adults living with HIV.

In addition to Monell and Gilead, the partnership includes Eurofins’ Translational Cell Models group, an international clinical research organization formerly operated as DiscoveryBiomed. The Clinton Health Access Initiative partnered with Gilead to advance and apply bitter blocker technology in pediatric formulations.

The project has received funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.