Kansas State University research team, including an Indian origin scientist, is studying whether an individual's bitterness sensitivity can help predict his/her risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Lead researcher Kathy Nguyen, senior in public health nutrition along with colleagues Koushik Adhikari and Mark Haub, are studying the genotypes of diabetic and non-diabetic individuals to determine the possible link.
For the study, Nguyen is collecting cheek cell samples from about 60 men and women between the ages of 40 and 70. The sample includes people with and without type 2 diabetes.
The researchers will later genotype two variations within a DNA sequence to determine whether the individuals are supertasters, tasters or non-tasters of bitterness.
Supertasters are more sensitive to bitterness than tasters, and non-tasters are not sensitive.
The team hopes that by understanding whether bitterness sensitivity is linked to type 2 diabetes, there is a potential to screen individuals for bitterness sensitivity, and to use that information as a predictive marker for the disease and other chronic disease such as heart disease and obesity.
"This is a preliminary stage with a small sample size," Adhikari said.
"The study has to be repeated with a larger population of different ethnicities to arrive at any meaningful conclusions. However, Kathy will establish the protocol for this project," he added.