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This review paper explores the role of human taste panels and artificial neural networks (ANNs) in taste-masking paediatric drug formulations. Given the ethical, practical, and regulatory challenges of employing children, young adults (18–40) can serve as suitable substitutes due to the similarity in their taste sensitivity. Taste panellists need not be experts in sensory evaluation so long as a reference product is used during evaluation; however, they should be screened for bitterness taste detection thresholds. For a more robust evaluation during the developmental phase, considerations of a scoring system and the calculation of an acceptance value may be beneficial in determining the likelihood of recommending a formulation for further development. On the technological front, artificial neural networks (ANNs) can be exploited in taste-masking optimisation of medicinal formulations as they can model complex relationships between variables and enable predictions not possible previously to optimise product profiles. Machine learning classifiers may therefore tackle the challenge of predicting the bitterness intensity of paediatric formulations. While advancements have been made, further work is needed to identify effective taste-masking techniques for specific drug molecules. Continuous refinement of machine learning algorithms, using human panellist acceptability scores, can aid in enhancing paediatric formulation development and overcoming taste-masking challenges.
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