About Molecular Partners – Roy R. Hantgan, PhD, Director

Molecular Partners, located in Wake Forest Biotech Place, provides a unique array of instrumentation and expertise that enables investigators to measure and modulate the rate, extent, strength and stability of interactions between biological macromolecules that contribute to human health and disease.

We enable academic and industry scientists to carry out research projects, publish papers, and win new grants and contracts by providing expertise with several core biotechnologies, all supported by range-of-data analysis algorithms.

Molecular Partners’ success builds directly on a track record of solving biomedical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological problems with biophysical insights.

Our collaborative approach starts with a discussion of each investigator’s objectives, leading to the design of a pilot experiment to assess the feasibility of a larger study.

  • What is the biological question? How can Molecular Partners’ technology address it?
  • What are the interacting molecules? What purity, quantity, size and electric charge?
  • How rapidly and tightly do you expect these molecules to interact?
  • How can this pilot experiment advance your long-term goals?

We determine which combination of Molecular Partners’ biotechnologies is most appropriate to achieving the investigator’s objectives in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Our core biotechnologies are:

Surface Plasmon Resonance: SPR measurements of complex formation between two macromolecules, one immobilized on a biosensor chip and the other delivered by microfluidics, are performed with the Biacore T100. Applications include measuring the on- and off-rates and equilibrium constants for receptor:ligand, target:drug, antigen:antibody, protein:nucleic acid, or protein:lipid interactions. SPR is ideal to screen biologics for target affinity and selectivity.

UV/Visible Spectroscopy: Spectral measurements are performed on a Cary/Varian 50 Bio UV-visible spectrophotometer. Applications include determining concentrations of small molecules, proteins or nucleic acids, even in complex mixtures.

Fluorescence Spectroscopy: Excitation and emission scans, fluorescence lifetime, and anisotropy measurements are performed on an ISS K2 Multifrequency Phase Modulation Fluorometer. Applications include fluorescence anisotropy measurements of the rate and extent of interactions between a fluorophore-tagged ligand or oligonucleotide and a receptor or DNA binding protein. Readily adapted for target-based screens with tool or lead compounds.

Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy: CD measurements of macromolecular secondary structure are performed on a JASCO Model 720A Spectropolarimeter. Applications include comparing the solution conformation of a wild-type protein with a series of single-site mutants or measuring a macromolecule’s thermal stability. CD can detect changes in target structure linked to allosteric or orthosteric lead compound/drug binding.

Dynamic Light Scattering: DLS measurements are performed with a Malvern Nano-S Nanosizer. Applications include characterizing the oligomeric state of a macromolecule and determining the size distributions of lipid vesicle preparations. Well suited to screening biologic drugs to detect and minimize aggregation problems.

Analytical Ultracentrifugation: Sedimentation velocity and equilibrium measurements are performed with a Beckman XLA. Applications include characterizing the size, shape and oligomeric state of macromolecules. AU provides a powerful approach for delineating aggregation mechanisms with biologic drugs.