Malaysia’s IHH Healthcare leads $20m funding in SG-based cancer screening firm

A surgeon performing a procedure. Photo: Artur Tumasjan

Malaysia-based IHH Healthcare has led a $20-million Series A funding round for Singapore-based Lucence, the inventor of blood-based tests for cancer screening and treatment selection, the companies announced Wednesday.

The financing, which will be used by Lucence to bring its liquid biopsy technology to more patients across Asia and North America, was joined by SGInnovate, Temasek’s subsidiary Heliconia Capital, Lim Kaling, Koh Boon Hwee, and others.

With the fresh capital, Lucence said it will also embark on new prospective clinical studies to evaluate its technology for the early detection of multiple cancers.

A spin-out of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR), Lucence develops non-invasive blood tests that it claims can help detect cancer early and improve treatment selection.

Last year, the company introduced LiquidHALLMARK, the first and only clinical sequencing blood test that detects both cancer-related gene mutations and cancer-causing viruses within a single assay.

The test has been used by oncologists in cancer diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment selection for over 1,000 patients in Asia to date, according to a company statement. The technology focuses on Asia-prevalent cancers such as lung, breast, colorectal, pancreatic, nasopharyngeal, and liver cancers.

“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,” said Dr. Min-Han Tan, founder and CEO of Lucence.

IHH Healthcare, which is listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia and the Main Board of SGX, said in a separate statement that its investment in Lucence is part of its collaboration with startups to deploy innovative and cutting-edge healthcare technology to enhance patient experience, treatment, and clinical outcomes.

“Liquid biopsy is a game-changer in our endeavour 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,” said Dr Kelvin Loh, Chief Executive Officer (Designate) of IHH Healthcare.

IHH is one of the largest healthcare groups in the world by market capitalization, employing more than 55,000 people and operating over 15,000 licensed beds across 80 hospitals in 10 countries worldwide. It provides the full spectrum of healthcare services from clinics and hospitals to quaternary care and a wide range of ancillary services.

Last month, IHH was reported to have initiated talks to sell two of its major assets in India to their original founder-promoters. The two assets are Continental Hospitals and Global Hospitals, wherein IHH Healthcare holds 62.2 per cent and 74 per cent stakes, respectively. Both hospitals are headquartered in Hyderabad.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.