Monell Center Part of Effort Led by Global Pharmaceutical Firm Gilead Sciences to Take the Bitterness Out of Medicines for Kids

PHILADELPHIA (July 13, 2023) – The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an integral member of public-private partnerships led by Gilead Sciences, Inc. announced today to develop investigational pediatric formulations of TAF (tenofovir) and SOF (sofosbuvir) designed to eliminate bitterness in these 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, PhD, Monell Acting Director and President. “This international collaboration leverages Monell’s deep knowledge of human taste biology and novel human taste cell culture technology to ultimately fight HIV in children.”

Experts estimate that globally 1.7 million children under the age of 15 live with HIV. However, just over 50% take antiretroviral treatment compared to 76% of adults living with HIV on treatment today. Many low-to-middle-income countries have a high burden of mother-to-child transmission. As a consequence, the prevalence of HIV among children remains high.

Monell, Eurofins’ Translational Cell Models group (formerly DiscoveryBiomed, Inc. (DBM)), and the Clinton Health Access Initiative partnered with Gilead to advance and apply bitter blocker technology in pediatric formulations. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, Monell and Eurofins have shown that their approach is a reliable and efficient screening platform. They created bitter-responsive taste bud cell lines cultured from individual donor oral tissue to make screening assays. Finding ways to block bitterness could also encourage healthy eating habits by reducing reliance on salt and sugar.


The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1968, Monell‘s mission is to improve health and well-being by advancing the scientific understanding of taste, smell, and related senses, where our discoveries lead to improving nutritional health, diagnosing and treating disease, addressing smell and taste loss, and digitizing chemosensory data.