The Liquid Biopsy Market in The Past 5 Years: China VS U.S.

The Liquid Biopsy Market in The Past 5 Years: China VS U.S.


According to World Health Organization, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally in the past decade; however, it is rapidly gaining ground as the No.1 killer. About 14 million new cases emerge annually worldwide, which results in around 8.8 million deaths yearly — a mortality rate as high as 63%!

Although cancer has long been considered as a deadly disease, in fact, many can be cured, when found at an early stage. Unfortunately, most patients experience very little to no symptom in the beginning, and are only diagnosed when their cancer has already processed into an untreatable or hard to reverse late stage. Therefore, how to capture the trace of tumors at an early stage has been the prevailing question on the mind of industry experts, and began to gain heats across the spectrum of healthcare givers in the past five years.

To find this answer, we need to look no further than liquid biopsy, which is a noninvasive blood (or other exocrine) detection technique. It can monitor the slightest amount of circulating tumor cells (CTC) and its DNA (ctDNA) fragments, released into the blood either by themselves or by their metastases.

Since its birth, liquid biopsy has sparkled industry-wide attentions and set off firestorms across the globe. It was named as “the top ten technologies of 2015” by the MIT technology review, and was also proposed as “the next five breakthrough technologies in the medical industry” by Forbes.

Compared to the traditional methods, advantages of liquid biopsy are obvious. It can spot the existence of tumor at a very early stage, largely thanks to its high sensitivity, along with low cost, easy to operate, and the ability to reflect the cancer status in real time.

A large number of investors and entrepreneurs responded positively to this upward trend and has already jumped into the hot-red liquid biopsy race. All major pharmaceutical countries are eyeing this market. In the US and Europe, biopharma and biotech giants, such as Arch Venture, Google Venture, Johnson & Johnson, etc., invested heavily in it. Across the globe, the Chinese market is growing rapidly as well. The number of liquid biopsy start-ups has soared in the past couple years, and in 2014 alone, there were 14 newly founded Chinese biotechs, which were developing new liquid biopsy technologies. Livzon medicine, Da An Gens Co, Tencent, and other Chinese pharma giants have also plunged into it.

The heat is even hotter in 2017. A series of events has happened, pushing the liquid biopsy hype to a new height. In March, Grail completed a $ 900 million round, set the record for the largest liquid biopsy fundraising until now. Riding on the trend, Guardant Health, Freenome, and RareCyte have also received large amounts of funds, largely thanks to their technological advantages. In total, the liquid biopsy market has received more than $1.3 Billion, despite it has only been 6 months in 2017.

In this article, I am going to primarily focus on 106 liquid biopsy companies — 68 of them are in China and the rest is located in the US, and have compiled and analyzed their data from 2015 to date. This revealed interesting insights into the future trends of the Chinese and the US liquid biopsy markets.

1.    The Changes of Fundings in the Past Five Years: China VS the US   

The investment trends of liquid biopsy market in China and the United States are very similar from 2013 to 2016, both of which have reached a small peak back in 2015. In the US, this rapid growth is primarily fueled by the launch of the Precision Medical Initiative program proposed by the Obama administration, which includes gene technology as an important part of the project.

On another note, in the same year, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has also amped up their efforts in developing precision medical care and has strategized to invest a total of $60 Billion before 2030. Following closely, the Chinese Health Commission and the Ministry of Health issued a series of documents and guidelines supporting tumor diagnosis and high-throughput gene sequencing to further drive forward research into precision medicines.


The total investment in the Chinese liquid biopsy market has dropped significantly when the time comes to 2016. However, this downward trend does not reflect the whole story, as Beijing Genomics Institute has completed two large rounds of fundraisings back in 2014 and 2015, which accounted for the majority of the total market investment of those two years. Whereas liquid biopsy is only part of their businesses, therefore, it is not fair to count all of Beijing Genomics Institute’s fundings as liquid biopsy investments.

Taken this into consideration, I have cut out Beijing Genomics Institute’s investment in 2014 and 2015, in an attempt to have a more accurate view of the Chinese liquid biopsy market in the past five years.

As we can see in the new chart, investments in the Chinese liquid biopsy market has skyrocketed in 2015 and continued to grow in 2016. As of May, 31th of 2017, four Chinese liquid biopsy biotechs have successfully raised capitals, amounting to $3.3 million in total. Although this is down from the amount of last year, the investment is predicted to grow in the long run, as the market continues to heat up, along with supporting policies from the Chinese government. To capitalize on this upward trend, undoubtedly, an increasing number of investors will begin to back Chinese liquid biopsy start-ups.

United States 

The US liquid biopsy investment market has reached a small peak in 2015, up to $812 million, and has experienced a slight decline afterward in 2016, with a reduction to $440 million. In 2017, the market has skyrocketed, topping to more than $1.28 billion just five months in the year.

It is clear that the surge in 2017 is largely due to Grail’s B-round, which has raised $900 million in total. Combined with Guardant Health’s $360 million E round, together, they have contributed to 98% of the total liquid biopsy investment market.

Up to date, a total of seven fundraisings events has happened in 2017, with several star companies taking most of the funds. We can speculate that the competition in the liquid biopsy sector is about to intensify in the United States.


2.  The Trends in Liquid Biopsy Companies: China VS US

United States


Prior to 2000, the American liquid biopsy industry is relatively quiet. Only 8 companies were established during this period of time, including Biocept, Trovagen, Illumina, and Myriad Genetics. Up to date, most of them have already become a listing company in Nasdaq.

When the time comes to 2008, the market began to uptick, and a number of start-ups were founded. After years of development, the majority of them have already become mature and grown into the mainstay of the industry. Some of the famous ones include Guardant Health, Exosome Diagnostics, Foundation Medicine, and Pathway Genomics.

After 2014, the market came to a new area. A slew of cutting-edge companies was formed, including Codiak Biosciences, Grail, Freenome, etc., and quickly began to gain attentions and supports across the industry. A host of famous venture capital firms has committed to them, including Founders Fund, Google Ventures, ARCH Venture, etc. Even IT behemoths, such as Bezos Expeditions, Bill Gates, have taken a share in them. Within just two or three years, these companies have already become industry leaders.


Unlike the US, the number of start-ups in the Chinese liquid biopsy sector has been on a steady upward trend.

In the early time, most companies largely focus on the upstream or the downstream; some provide comprehensive services, such as Beijing Genomics; some produce reagents or chips applied in the liquid biopsy diagnosis, such as Amoydx; others develop therapeutic treatments, such as Wuxi Apptec. Rarely, a company would solely commit to liquid biopsy.

Around 2012, companies focusing on the midstream services of the liquid biopsy sector, like Berry Genomics, Genetron Health, Illumina, 3Dmed, Novogen, began to emerge. Among them, Genetron Health and 3Dmed have placed strategic emphasis on liquid biopsy, referring it as their core business.

Starting from 2014, the Chinese gene industry started to boom; an increasing number of liquid biopsy companies, such as Geneis, Haplox, Geneplus, etc., are founded. At present, the majority of the companies are focused on midstream services, and more than 83.3% of them were born after 2011; this is the most obvious difference between the Chinese and American liquid biopsy industries. In China, the market is severely segmented — the majority of the companies are start-ups, and no one major company is dominating the industry.


The liquid biopsy market has a great growth potential ahead and is predicted to mature in 5 to 15 years, reaching $23 Billion at its peak worldwide, noted by Goldman Sachs in a report. The United States will continue to be its main market, representing more than 60% of the global market share and topping to $14 Billion in total.

The US market has already begun to differentiate and the competition will become even more fierce in the coming years. On the flip side, the majority of Chinese companies are still at its start-up stage, and there will be still years before the market matures.



One Reply to “The Liquid Biopsy Market in The Past 5 Years: China VS U.S.”

  1. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

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