Norak Biosciences has landed a contract with the National Cancer Institute for research into possible drug leads for fighting cancer.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Under the agreement, the NCI will evaluate Norak’s Transfluor technology for the screening of G-protein coupled receptor (GCPR) cancer targets.

Terry Willard, Norak executive vice president, described to Local Tech Wire’s Allan Maurer the significance of GPCRS.

“GPCRs are important in diseases,” Willard explained. “Over 50 percent of drugs on the market today act on GPCRs.”

Norak’s technology identifies the ligands – the natural substances that activate specific GPCRs – therefore controlling whatever the receptor does. In some cases, turning the GPCR on might lead to disease, while in other cases, shutting it off does. In both cases, ligands flip the switch.

The National Cancer Program within NCI has a Molecular Targets Discover Program. It is designed to facilitate discovery of compounds for possible drug development.

“We are delighted that NCU has shown interest in evaluating the value of Transfluor in the screening of cancer targets,” said Dr. Roger Blevins, president and chief executive officer of Norak, in a statement. “GPCRs are potentially important cancer targets that have yet to be fully exploited.”

Norak licensed Transfluor technology from Duke University in 1999.