If cancer can be detected and treated early, the survival rate of patients can be improved. The five-year survival rate of patients with ovarian cancer, for example, is 23.9% if the cancer is detected at a late stage, but improves as high as 92.5% if it can be found early while the cancer is still localized (data from "Statistical data by cancer type," National Cancer Center).
Craif, headed by CEO Ryuichi Onose, wants to "Ensure Lifelong Health for Everyone,” by bringing about a society in which cancer can be detected early by analyzing urinary biomarkers that indicate cancer progression. Urine combines the advantages of simple and non-invasive testing (without any harm to the body) with high accuracy. The urine test developed by Craif is even successful in classifying the cancer type. "Additional tests can only be performed once you know the cancer type, so we focused on developing a test that can distinguish between different cancer types," says Onose.
Mr. Onose joined a trading company after graduating from university and became interested in startups when he started his own side business. His reason for founding his company was to "contribute to the progress of humankind." Cancer has a major impact on society, and losing his own grandparents due to cancer was another reason for Onose to expand into this field.
Though Onose himself has no experience in medical care or bioresearch, he knew that early detection cancer tests were not very accurate, so he recruited experts who agreed with his vision and improved on the technology. By building NANO IP (NANO Intelligence Platform), which effectively captures, measures, analyzes, and databases nano-biomarkers, he developed a cancer test that reads crosstalk between cancer-related cells with high accuracy. The results of his research were presented at international conferences. The miSignal series has been available at medical institutions all over Japan since February 2022. The test has now evolved into one that can determine the risk of up to seven types of cancers (colorectal, lung, stomach, breast, pancreatic, esophageal, and ovarian cancer) at a time. In November 2022, Craif began selling complete home tests.
The main molecules that Craif analyzes are miRNAs (microRNAs), which exist in many different types and are associated not only with cancer but also various other diseases. Craif also offers R&D services to pharmaceuticals and other related companies and holds the potential to become a platform that can contribute to the early detection of many diseases.