Lucerna has received a 2 year $1.5M SBIR Phase II contract from the National Cancer Institute to develop new R&D tools to enable scientists to better study an emerging class of important biomolecules called circular RNA (circRNA). Lucerna has previously completed a Phase I SBIR contract to develop a proof-of-concept fluorescent sensor that detect ciRS-7 circRNA , a well known cancer biomarker. The goal of this follow-on contract is to develop the circRNA sensor into off-the-shelf assay kits and extend the platform capability to detect all medically-important circRNA.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel class of modified RNAs that are an abundant component of the epitranscriptome. Putative functions of circRNAs, include miRNA sequestration, RNA-binding protein scaffolding, mRNA trapping, and protein translation regulation. Deregulation in one or more of these roles has been linked to several types of cancer. One well-studied circRNA, ciRS-7, is believed to act as a miRNA-7 sponge and inhibit its regulation of oncogenic receptors and tumor suppressor factors. Despite all the excitement around circRNAs, many of the recently discovered circRNAs remain poorly understood and progress has been extremely slow. An important reason is the lack of accessible tools to allow for the mechanistic study of individual circRNA. Recognizing this unmet need, a simple fluorogenic assay platform to detect circRNAs of interest in biochemical and cell lysate-based samples is proposed. In this Phase II project, the development of the ciRS-7 assays for biochemical and cell-based application will be finalized. Further, a robust standard operating procedure to streamline future custom circRNA development will be established. Lastly, assay benchmarks and distribution conditions for production scale-up will be determined. Upon completion, the circRNA sensor platform would find commercial applications in circRNA research, drug discovery, and biomarker development.
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Lucerna, Inc. aims to be the industry leader in the development of RNA-based research and drug discovery reagents. Its motto of “making all RNA visible and druggable” reflects Lucerna’s mission to develop plug-and-play products that allow better imaging and detection of RNA, and high-throughput screening platforms that enable new drug discovery of previous intractable RNA targets. Based on exclusive worldwide rights to groundbreaking research from the laboratory of Samie R. Jaffrey, M.D., Ph.D., at Weill-Cornell University, Lucerna has generated a collection of intellectual property, know-how, and trade secrets to strengthen its market position in this newly burgeoning RNA field. Through innovation and alliances, Lucerna plans to expand its product offerings into areas related to RNA-targeted therapeutics, epitranscriptomics, biomarker detection, and single-cell analysis. Lucerna is a privately held company headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. For more information about Lucerna, please visit lucernatechnologies.com.