The startup develops non-invasive blood tests that achieve early cancer detection and improve treatment selection.

Genomic medicine startup Lucence raises $20M Series A

By Dean Koh
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Above photo: Dr. Min-Han Tan, founder and CEO of Lucence. Credit: Lucence

Singapore-headquartered genomic medicine startup Lucence announced it has raised $20 million in Series A funding. The round was led by IHH Healthcare, one of the world’s largest integrated private healthcare groups, with 80 hospitals in 10 countries worldwide. Other participants include SGInnovate, existing investors Heliconia Capital, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, Lim Kaling and Koh Boon Hwee.

WHAT THEY DO

Lucence develops non-invasive blood tests that achieve early cancer detection and improve treatment selection. The startup also has offices in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Suzhou. A spinoff company from Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in 2016, Lucence introduced its flagship next-generation sequencing test, LiquidHALLMARK in 2018. It is the first and only clinical sequencing blood test that detects both cancer-related gene mutations and cancer-causing viruses within a single assay.

According to Lucence, the test has been used by oncologists in cancer diagnosis, monitoring and treatment selection for over 1,000 patients in Asia to date. LiquidHALLMARK detects clinically relevant mutations across 14 cancer types, including lung, breast, colorectal, pancreatic, nasopharyngeal and liver cancers.

WHAT’S IT FOR

The funds will be used by the startup to provide its liquid biopsy technology to more patients across Asia and North America for personalized treatment selection. Lucence will also commence new prospective clinical studies to evaluate its technology for the early detection of multiple cancers.

THE LARGER TREND

Large healthcare groups such as IHH sees investments in cutting-edge healthtech startups as way to improve patient experience, treatment options and clinical outcomes. In Singapore, IHH is working with a local AI startup to improve bill estimates for patients using an expanded set of learning algorithms. 

ON THE RECORD

“Our mission is to reduce worldwide suffering through early cancer detection. As a medical oncologist, I have worked in the clinic and the laboratory for over a decade, striving towards a world where cancer can be overcome with early screening. Our research discoveries, such as the identification of the circulating tumor-endothelial cluster, can transform the liquid biopsy field, allowing better non-invasive cancer screening and profiling for patients,” said Dr. Min-Han Tan, MBBS, PhD, founder and CEO of Lucence in a statement. 

“This partnership with IHH Healthcare will accelerate our work to achieve early cancer detection and effective cures, and expand access to this much-needed liquid biopsy technology to patients across Asia and the United States,” he added. 

Dr. Kelvin Loh, Chief Executive Officer (Designate) of IHH Healthcare, said, “Liquid biopsy is a game-changer in our endeavor to provide cancer patients with better, value-driven outcomes through precise treatment selections and more affordable care. Our investment in Lucence will provide IHH patients with better access to this advanced technology. IHH looks to drive greater synergies with Lucence and co-develop solutions for patients, as well as explore opportunities to sharpen our precision medicine capabilities with other like-minded partners across our 10-country network.”