Lucero Bio receives 1.3Mio Euro in funding from the EIC

January 01, 2023

The startup Lucero Bio receives 1.3Mio Euro in funding to accelerate their transition in developing novel 3D cell manipulation tools. The project titled "Innovative 3D cell culture handling platform for preclinical drug screening" will last for 3 years starting from the 01.01.2023. 

Purpose and Goal:

Personalised medicine has become a key focus for the pharmaceutical industry as it can address global health challenges, such as strong variations of drug efficacy and toxicity linked to different patient subgroups. A major challenge that pharmaceutical companies still face is the lack of enabling technologies they need to evaluate drug candidates in patients before entering clinical trials. 

Lucero enables them to take the next step towards personalised treatments by providing a novel cell-handling platform that combines microfluidics, optical tweezers and artificial intelligence. Our technology is tailored to pre-clinical drug screening procedures for which patient-derived 3D cell cultures have to be automatically selected, isolated, and prepared for drug testing at high throughput speed, in line with their scalability requirements. 

Expected results and outcomes:

During our ERC PoC project, we developed an integrated benchtop device for handling single 3D cell cultures inside an in-vitro environment. Lucero will build on this achievement by expanding our prototype’s functionalities to automatically detect cell culture viability, fully automate their isolation, and adapt the design of every core component to match the drug screening workflow. 

Lucero’s technology fills the need of the pharmaceutical industry by providing a micromanipulation method for precisely handling targeted 3D cell models, while ensuring spheroid viability and downstream compatibility with standardized well-plate handling equipment. 

Lucero combines artificial intelligence, optical tweezers, and microfluidics into an integrated platform for the identification, isolation, and preparation of single spheroids for drug discovery assays. This will enable pharmaceutical companies to pre-select viable spheroids from a heterogeneous sample, completely isolate them inside each well of a standard well plate at a high-throughput speed, and prepare them for downstream screening protocols in an automated fashion while achieving fast data acquisition times.

Lucero receives prestigious EIC Transition grant


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