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25 September 2012

A personal approach to cancer treatment

An insight into each unique tumour cell from a simple blood sample

Innovative technology design and development firm Cambridge Consultants is working with Singapore-based Clearbridge BioMedics on a groundbreaking device to improve cancer testing and research. The innovative second-generation ClearCellTM System enables tumour cells to be retrieved and detected even faster, and potentially more accurately, from a simple blood sample – paving the way for a new generation of personalised cancer treatments and increasing the chance of saving lives*.

There were an estimated 12.7 million new cancer cases diagnosed around the world in 2008 – the latest year for which figures are available – and 7.6 million deaths. The number of cases is expected to increase to 21 million by 2030. The spread of the disease around the body is the major cause of death from cancer*. But the traditional diagnosis method of a tumour biopsy often involves invasive surgery and cannot easily detect whether the disease has spread.

Clearbridge BioMedics’s proprietary second-generation ClearCellTM System is a new low-cost non-invasive ‘liquid biopsy’ that is drawing on the diagnostic device expertise of Cambridge Consultants – particularly in the fields of microfluidics and automation control – to give early warning of the spread of the disease. It detects circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in the bloodstream that have detached from a patient’s primary tumour – even at concentrations of as low as one in a billion blood cells.

Early detection of these CTCs can increase patients’ chances of survival – and tracking the cell count over time could help ensure treatment is more effective. The new testing device has also solved the technical challenge of retrieving the cells intact – offering detailed insight into the exact nature of the cancer and its unique characteristics, and so paving the way for a new generation of personalised cancer treatments to fit the needs of each patient’s unique tumour biology.

“It is a tribute to our world-leading track record in diagnostic device development that we have been approached from Singapore to help with this development work,” said Duncan Bishop, programme director in the Medical Technology division of Cambridge Consultants. “We can also offer a complete end-to-end solution, including blood handling, rapid prototyping and manufacturing trial devices, which is invaluable to start-up companies.”

Clearbridge BioMedics is a spin-off from the National University of Singapore and the first member of the Clearbridge Accelerator technology incubator, which is supported by the Singapore government’s National Research Foundation and SPRING Singapore. Clearbridge BioMedics specialises in novel applications for cancer research and diagnostics, and has customers spanning Asia, Europe and North America.

Johnson Chen, managing partner of Clearbridge Accelerator, said: “The ClearCellTM System from Clearbridge BioMedics is designed to resolve the current limitations of today’s technologies for detecting and isolating circulating tumour cells. It potentially represents the next generation of cancer screening, diagnosis, personalised medicine and treatment monitoring. The world-class diagnostic device expertise of Cambridge Consultants made it the clear winner when it came to selecting a development partner.”

*World Health Organization fact sheet no 297, February 2012

Notes to editors

Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology-critical issues for clients worldwide. For more than 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of more than 700 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston (USA) and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, digital health, oil and gas, and wireless communications.

Cambridge Consultants is part of Altran, a global leader in engineering and R&D services which offers its clients a new way to innovate. Altran works alongside its clients on every link in the value chain of their project, from conception to industrialisation. In 2015, the Altran group generated revenues of €1.945bn. With a headcount of more than 27,000 employees, Altran is present in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit

Clearbridge BioMedics specialises in novel platforms with applications in oncology research and diagnostics. It is a National University of Singapore spin-off company that is committed to developing medical devices which will impact the world and revolutionise cancer diagnostics and patient care by leveraging groundbreaking technology from research partners. The ClearCell™ System comprises patent-pending CTChips®, which are microfluidic biochips able to effectively detect, isolate and retrieve wholly-intact circulating tumour cells (CTCs) from small quantities of patient blood samples. The isolated CTCs can then be stained directly on the CTChips® for identification and enumeration, or retrieved for further molecular analysis. Headquartered in Singapore, Clearbridge BioMedics currently has customers spanning Asia, Europe and North America. For more information visit

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