Liquid Biopsy Firm Lucence Plans Bay Area Buildout With $20M in Tow

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Lucence, a genomic medicine company developing blood-based tests for cancer screening and treatment selection, announced this week the close of a $20 million Series A funding round led by IHH Healthcare.

CEO and founder Min-Han Tan (pictured) says the investment will be used to scale the Singapore-based company’s clinical lab operations—notably in the US, with plans to build out its lab and team in the San Francisco Bay Area next year.

“The funding will also be used to support prospective clinical trials to demonstrate sensitive profiling in lung and breast cancer patients in the US, as well as for a pilot trial for early detection of multiple cancers,” Tan tells Xconomy. “I believe our amplicon-based sequencing technology for liquid biopsy testing, combined with advanced software analytics, will achieve better treatment selection and less futile care for cancer patients.”

Lucence’s blood tests and technology are currently available out of its Singapore central laboratory, which this year became the first in Southeast Asia to be CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited.

In addition to lung cancer, the prospective clinical trials also will evaluate the ability of the technology to detect colorectal, breast, and pancreatic cancer.

Lucence in 2018 launched its next-generation sequencing test, LiquidHALLMARK. According to the company, which spun out of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in 2016, the test can detect cancer-related gene mutations and cancer-causing viruses within a single assay.

With plans to boost its presence in California, Lucence joins several other companies in the state working to develop liquid biopsies. This includes Freenome out of South San Francisco which earlier this year closed a Series B funding round that brought in $160 million.

Additionally, Menlo Park, CA-based Grail, an Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) spinout, has raised more than $1.5 billion to date after closing a $300 million Series C last year. In Redwood City, CA, Guardant Health (NASDAQ: GH) made its stock market debut in 2018 with an IPO coming in at $237.5 million. And in March 2019, Epic Sciences published positive results from a study evaluating the use of its blood tests, which Genomic Health (NASDAQ: GHDX) is commercializing.

On the other side of the country, Boston, MA-based Thrive Earlier Detection saw $110 million in financing from biotech investors, including Third Rock Ventures, earlier this year as well.

Lucence’s Series A funding was led by IHH Healthcare and joined by SGInnovate, Temasek Holdings subsidiary Heliconia Capital, Lim Kaling, Koh Boon Hwee, and others.

IHH Healthcare is a private healthcare group and is listed on the Main Markets of Bursa Malaysia and the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Image credit: Enterprise Singapore.