Lucence Partners with Waseda University to Develop an Integrated Liquid Biopsy Platform for Cancer Screening

News | March 24, 2021

Precision oncology company Lucence announced today a partnership with Waseda University in Japan to develop a novel high-speed liquid biopsy laser-based imaging platform for early cancer detection. The technology captures thousands of high-resolution individual images of circulating tumor cells and clusters from a blood sample with potential applications in early cancer detection and disease monitoring. Lucence plans to commercialize this liquid biopsy platform from their CLIA-licensed laboratory in Palo Alto.

“More than 50% of cancer diagnoses happen in late stages of the disease, when treatment options are limited. Early cancer detection is critical to reducing mortality,” says Dr Tan Min-Han, Founding CEO and Medical Director at Lucence. “We are excited to combine our discovery of circulating tumor-vessel cell clusters in early cancers with Waseda University’s engineering expertise to build an early cancer detection technology platform.”

“Identifying circulating tumor cells using conventional biomarkers often lead to false-negative results,” says Professor Kenji Yasuda of Waseda University. “Together with Lucence, we visualize the end-product to be an easy-to-use diagnostic platform for rapid and automated detection of circulating tumor cells and cell clusters in liquid biopsies.”

Dr Tan, a medical oncologist by background, led the landmark discovery of circulating tumor-vessel cell clusters1 in 2016 when he was at the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). These cell clusters are found in multiple tumor types, and can serve as an unique biomarker for early cancer detection. Through this partnership with Waseda University to develop a high-speed microfluidic imaging platform2, Lucence will build a circulating cell atlas, where circulating tumor cells and cell clusters can be analyzed with proprietary deep learning algorithms for further insights on cancer.

Lucence has secured exclusive technology licenses from Waseda University and A*STAR to support the development of this diagnostic platform for cancer screening and monitoring.

Lucence currently provides highly sensitive circulating tumor DNA liquid biopsy testing using LucenceAMPLIMARK™, the company’s proprietary amplicon-based molecular watermarking sequencing approach, powered by an ever-improving library of deep learning algorithms. This collaboration enables the development of a new generation of ultrasensitive cancer screening tests profiling both circulating tumor DNA and cells, projected to be available in the United States in 2022.


About Waseda University

Waseda University is a private research-intensive institution which provides a stimulating academic environment for its about 50,000 students from around the world. Waseda consistently ranks among the most academically selective and prestigious Japanese universities in rankings. As a member of the Top Global University Project of the Education Ministry, Waseda University is in the top class of research schools to lead Japanese academia in the global era.


1 Cima I, et al. Sci Transl Med. 2016;8(345):345ra89
2 Kim H, et al. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(8):e104372