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Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Official Opening of Lucence Diagnostics’ New Headquarters and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Official Opening of Lucence Diagnostics’ New Headquarters and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory

Dr Tan Min-Han, Founder and CEO, Lucence Diagnostics, 
Distinguished Guests, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1. A very good morning to all of you. I am pleased to join you today at the official opening of Lucence Diagnostics’ new headquarters and molecular diagnostics laboratory. 

Singapore has invested and built strong capabilities in HBMS over the years, contributing to a thriving MedTech industry 

2. Singapore’s MedTech ecosystem is increasingly vibrant, with a burgeoning base of more than 230 MedTech startups and SMEs in 2018. 
Singapore is also home to more than 60 multinational MedTech companies that undertake activities ranging from regional headquarters and manufacturing, to R&D, producing devices such as implantable pacemakers, contact lenses and life science instruments for the global market.  In particular, MedTech manufacturing generated S$11.3 billion of manufacturing output for Singapore in 2016, representing more than a six-fold increase from 2000. The MedTech manufacturing workforce also grew threefold over the same period, to 13,900 in 2016. 

3. Lucence Diagnostics is a good example of a successful homegrown MedTech company. I would like to congratulate my friend, Dr Tan Min-Han, for bringing Lucence Diagnostics to where it is today. A spin-off from A*STAR, Lucence Diagnostics is a genomic medicine company with the mission to achieve better cancer detection and treatment through genomic intelligence. 
As a former principal investigator at A*STAR’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) and a well-regarded cancer specialist, Min-Han’s first-hand experience with cancer patients led him to develop a simple blood test, also referred to as a liquid biopsy, for cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

4. Since its founding in 2016, Lucence has achieved many milestones. In 2017, the company raised S$12.9 million in seed funding from private investors, one of the largest seed investments raised by a biomedical start-up in Asia Pacific. With cancer  accounting for over 4 million deaths per year in Asia, this funding will enable Lucence to advance and deliver its technology for the detection of cancers more commonly found in Asia, such as breast, colon, liver, lung and nose cancers. 

5. Today, Lucence’s cancer blood tests are available to patients in 8 countries across Asia, with offices in Hong Kong and San Francisco. I am glad to note that thousands of patients in the region have already directly benefited from Lucence’s world-leading blood tests for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The company saw a three-fold increase in services delivered to patients in 2018 compared to 2017. I am optimistic that Lucence’s expanded headquarters, with an accredited molecular diagnostic laboratory spanning 10,000 square feet, will enable the company to meet the increasing demand for its clinical services and technology, scale up its operations and expand to global markets.

Our homegrown MedTech companies should continue to innovate and develop new technologies to build their competitive edge

6. To remain competitive in the global MedTech market, our homegrown MedTech companies must focus on technological innovation. 

7. I am happy to note that Lucence will be launching its next-generation flagship blood test, LiquidHALLMARK® today. Based on the company’s proprietary sequencing technology AmpliMARK™ and support from its artificial intelligence platform SunTzu.AI™ to integrate and analyse clinical data, this blood test can detect 14 types of cancers in late-stage cancer patients. It is also the world’s first test that is capable of simultaneously detecting cancer-causing genetic mutations and viruses in a blood sample. Such a technology will help physicians in treating cancer patients more effectively by matching them to the best available treatment. 

8. Following its success in helping late-stage cancer patients, the company is now developing a new blood test based on its AmpliMARK™ technology to screen for multiple cancers in the early stage. Lucence will be launching a clinical study with 100,000 participants across Asia to validate its early cancer detection technology this year. 

Public-Private sector collaboration is key to continued innovation and improving the competitiveness of our MedTech industry 

9. One of the key strengths of Singapore’s R&D ecosystem lie in the strong partnerships between our companies and the public sector.  Global and local startups, MNCs and local enterprises have been working closely with key public sector organisations, such as A*STAR, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), Ministry of Health (MOH), hospitals and the regulators to strengthen the growth and competitiveness of the MedTech industry. 

10. Lucence has worked closely with a number of public sector research organisations to co-develop unique technologies and products. For example, Lucence launched the FibroPhyllo™ Tissue test in October 2018, using technology developed by A*STAR and the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). This is the world’s first molecular test to distinguish breast fibroadenoma, the most common benign breast tumour, from phyllodes tumour, a less common tumour that could be malignant. This provides objective guidance for the management of the most common breast tumours that millions of women may develop. 

11. I am happy to note that Lucence’s liquid biopsy tests, developed using Singapore developed IP, are available to patients in our local public health healthcare institutions such as the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), and private hospitals such as Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Gleneagles Hospital. This is testament to the value of private and public sector R&D collaboration to Singapore.  

Conclusion


12. I trust that Lucence’s success will inspire budding researchers, entrepreneurs, and clinicians to follow in your footsteps and continue to connect the dots between research and business, and contribute to Singapore’s thriving MedTech sector. 

13. I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Lucence on the official opening of its new headquarters and the launch of its LiquidHALLMARK® test. Thank you. 

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