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The new partnership will help researchers turn breakthrough biological insights into valuable chemical intellectual property (IP) and unlock substantial commercial and therapeutic potential at the University.

OpenBench logoThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) and Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) have partnered with OpenBench, Inc., the first success-driven service for small molecule hit discovery, to advance drug discovery at Carolina. The partnership is focused on high-value oncology targets identified by researchers at the University.

“Carolina has world-renowned foundational research expertise in cancer, infectious diseases, neuroscience, and other disease areas,” said Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Penny Gordon-Larsen. “Our new collaboration with OpenBench will provide our researchers with opportunities to access cutting-edge, virtual screening methodologies to accelerate translation of novel biological discoveries into potential therapeutic products.”

Under the terms of the new agreement, Carolina researchers will nominate promising disease targets for screening. In turn, OpenBench will conduct virtual screens to discover lead series for further development by the University. The company will receive payment upon successful discovery and subsequent assignment of leads to Carolina. The University will only pay for leads that are confirmed to be potent and developable. In addition, the agreement entitles OpenBench to royalty proceeds on a target-by-target basis.

“We are excited to apply success-driven discovery to accelerate the development and commercialization of life-saving science at one of the country’s premier public research institutes,” said OpenBench CTO and Co-Founder James Yoder.

The OVCR’s translational research team will advance and manage the University’s projects under the OpenBench partnership. Upon identification of lead compounds, OTC will manage the commercialization and royalty sharing partnership with OpenBench and will fund the first project as part of its continuing collaboration with OVCR.   

“As Carolina researchers develop critical therapeutics for cancer and other diseases, we look for new and innovative ways to move potential treatments to market faster, so that patients can benefit sooner,” said Michelle Bolas, Chief Innovation Officer at the University and Executive Director of Innovate Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill’s central team for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development, which includes OTC. “We are delighted to team with OpenBench to unlock the commercial and therapeutic potential of emerging scientific discoveries.”

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