A North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University effort to harness the properties of metal for new medical applications now has a partner that could help bring commercialize that work.

InCube Labs has entered into an agreement with N.C. A&T’s Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials (ERC-RMB). InCube, based in San Jose, Calif. and San Antonio, is a life sciences research lab focused on developing medical breakthroughs. The company has relationships with universities throughout the country in collaborations that range from evaluating intellectual property for its commercialization potential to training and mentoring entrepreneurs and scientists.

In a blog post, N.C. A&T’s director for research communications David Arneke notes that InCube has spun off more than 20 companies that produce implantable devices, drug delivery combinations and interventional devices that use novel biomaterials. That collaboration could advance the development of novel magnesium alloys being researched by the ERC.

The ERC is a consortium of universities that includes the University of Pittsburgh, University of Cincinnati and Hannover Medical School in Germany. N.C. A&T leads the consortium, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. The NSF has invested more than $20 million in ERC research since 2008.

The ERC is researching magnesium alloys, polymer coatings and sensors that could be used in implantable, bioresorbable medical devices that would break down in the body at an appropriate rate and time. With such bioresorbable medical devices, surgery would not be necessary to remove the screws, plates and wires that are used in orthopedic, craniofacial and cardiovascular surgeries.

The ERC-RMB has been testing its metal alloys in clinically relevant medical device prototypes, said Jag Sankar, ERC Director and professor of mechanical engineering at N.C. A&T.

“Our next step now is to work with industry to bring these innovations to market and to patients,” Sankar said in a statement. “ InCube Labs has a tremendous track record of success in developing and commercializing breakthrough technologies, and we are thrilled with this relationship with InCube to advance our novel biomaterials to the next phase of development.”