North Carolina Central University and NC State University have formed a partnership to boost drug discovery research, increasing opportunities for development of marketable products at both institutions.

The agreement provides NCCU with access to expertise at NC State’s Comparative Medicine Institute, while opening the doors for NC State researchers to use high-throughput screening technology and a library of over 200,000 chemical compounds housed at NCCU’s Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE).

“NCCU has an excellent drug-discovery infrastructure, including an extensive, diverse compound library that can be used to screen new drug targets,” said Dr. Hernán Navarro, director of BRITE.

The high-throughput screening equipment at BRITE enables researchers to rapidly test tens of thousands of compounds, decreasing the time needed to identify potentially useful molecules. 

“NC State has some expertise capabilities that we don’t have, such as the ability to create animal models of disease, and greater bandwidth in synthetic and analytical chemistry,” Navarro added.

BRITE researchers will benefit from NC State’s qualifications and expertise as they work toward the discovery of new potential treatments for human diseases.

“We will help each other,” Navarro said. “This partnership will allow us to take better advantage of each other’s strengths, leading to new opportunities for collaboration, drug-discovery grants, and intellectual property that can be licensed with the revenue reinvested in research.” 

The agreement also permits NCCU to offer NC State-based startup companies access to high-throughput screening on a fee-for-service basis, enabling them to maintain intellectual property rights.

The partnership, formalized in June 2019, was led by Dr. Navarro and Dr. Joshua Pierce, associate professor of Chemistry and associate director of NC State’s Emerging Infectious Disease Unit. Prior to joining BRITE as director, Dr. Navarro was vice president and chief scientist for RTI International’s Discovery Sciences division. 

Researchers from the two institutions will exchange visits to learn more about what each of the groups has to offer.

Read more about NCCU research here.