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Venture behind worm cancer-screening method raises ¥30 million from Shinkin Capital

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Staff Writer

Hirotsu Bio Science, a medical venture developing a cancer screening tool using nematodes, has secured ¥30 million in funding from Shinkin Capital Co. to accelerate growth in overseas markets, the firm announced Thursday.

The Tokyo-based venture run by Takaaki Hirotsu, formerly a biology researcher at Kyushu University, is creating a method to detect early-stage cancers with nematodes, which he discovered are attracted to the diluted urine of cancer patients.

The firm plans to introduce the urine test kit, named N-Nose, by January 2020. It is currently conducting clinical trials involving patients with about 10 different cancers at over 20 hospitals and cancer research institutes across Japan.

At a news conference held Thursday in Tokyo with Shinkin Capital, a subsidiary of the Shinkin Central Bank, Hirotsu said a roll-out of the product abroad will occur around the same time as the Japan launch.

Earlier this month, Hirotsu’s firm reached a joint research agreement with Queensland University of Technology in Australia, and is scheduled to start clinical trials there starting this winter. With results of the research in Australia, it hopes to market the screening kit in the U.S. and Europe.

“N-Nose is painless, quick and cheap. And it can detect cancers in super-early stages,” Shinkin Capital President Kazuo Yamaguchi said. “We find it to be a socially valuable investment.”