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Lucerna is developing a cell-based assay to rapidly identify COVID19 drugs



Lucerna is announcing the launch of a new R&D program to develop a new high-throughput screening (HTS) platform to enable the rapid discovery of drugs that inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


Late last year, Lucerna received a SBIR grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a rapid and polypharmacological screening platform that can identify effective drugs against Dengue, a virus responsible for over 100 million infections a year. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are expanding this platform to simultaneously develop a high-throughput assay that targets the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  We believe this assay will help pharmaceutical companies develop new antiviral drugs similar to Remdesivir (Gilead Sciences, Inc.).


The target of Lucerna’s SARS-CoV-2 assay is the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, the protein responsible for viral replication.  We plan to use our proprietary RNA aptamer technology to develop a target-specific cell-based HTS assay that can identify hits that exhibit maximal viral replication inhibition, and minimal cell toxicity and off-target effects in a large scale.


The ultimate goal is to leverage the know-how Lucerna scientists generated from the Dengue project to quickly develop and validate the SARS-CoV-2 assay for compound library screens. Lucerna has started discussions with strategy partners for the use of this technology.


This program will expand our portfolio of drug discovery platforms by utilization our Spinach technology to develop cell-based HTS assays against most important RNA viruses.


For more information, please reach us at



About Lucerna

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



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