Sweet and artificial

Chemists at this week's ACS meeting are to hear how their colleagues are exploring a variety of sugar alternatives, including new artificial sweeteners and non-calorie sweetness enhancers. Researchers at Senomyx, Inc. in La Jolla, California, for instance, are developing compounds that can enhance sweetness or saltiness by activating or blocking certain taste receptors. An aspartame derivative called Neotame could also help reduce calorie counts for beverages by enhancing sweetness more effectively without the need to use high-fructose corn syrup. Additionally, Belgian researchers discuss Stevioside, a non-caloric sweetener derived from the South American shrub Stevia rebaudiana. They have demonstrated efficacy and safety in this compounds and suggest it could be a potent weapon in the battle against obesity and type II diabetes.