2020,June.24

Craif’s Research Project Selected to be Funded by Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) to Accelerate Development of Urine-based, Highly Accurate Early Cancer Diagnosis

Craif Inc. (former Icaria Inc.) (Headquarter: Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, President & CEO: Ryuichi Onose, “Craif”) is happy to announce that our joint research project with Nagoya University (Location: Nagoya-shi, Aichi, President: Seiichi Matsuo, “Nagoya University”) and Hokuto Social Medical Corporation (Headquarter: Obihiro-shi, Hokkaido, Chairperson of BoD: Hajime Kamada, “Hokuto”), which aims at “developing an analytical engine to map microRNA in the urine to enable early, high-accurate, non-invasive cancer diagnosis”, has been selected to receive R&D grant funding from Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (“AMED”), under the “Development of Medical Devices and Systems for Advanced Medical Services Program”*1. Our project will be funded by AMED for a maximum of 5 years.


From left to right: Ryuichi Onose(President and CEO),Takao Yasui,Ph.D.(Scientific Adviser&Co-Founder),
Mika Mizunuma,Ph.D.(Chief Operating Officer), and Yuki Ichikawa.Ph.D.,(Chief Technology Officer)    

 

Overview

Our joint research project with Nagoya University and Hokuto to develop “a simple analytical engine to map microRNA in the urine to enable early, high-accurate, non-invasive cancer diagnosis” has been selected to receive R&D grant funding from AMED under their “Development of Medical Devices and Systems for Advanced Medical Services Program”*1. Our project will be funded by AMED for a maximum of 5 years.

Based on the Plan for Promotion of Medical Research and Development prescribed by the government of Japan, AMED promotes six integrated R&D projects in the medical field, which includes drug discovery, medical device development and healthcare, and regenerative and genomic medicine projects. AMED aims to fast-track medical R&D by conducting consistent R&D from the basic research stage to the implementation stage and produce results that would help provide better medical care to patients.

With AMED’s financial support, Craif will accelerate the development of urine-based, highly accurate early cancer detection method*2 and further work to address disease with high unmet medical needs, including brain tumor, with our technology.


*1: “Development of Medical Devices and Systems for Advanced Medical Services Program” for FY 2020, under the priority issue of “simplifying and speeding diagnosis/tests”

*2: The joint research with Nagoya University and Hokuto began in FY2019

 

Comments from our Collaborators

 Department of Neurosurgery Nagoya University, Graduate School of Medicine

Dr. Atsushi Natsume :

Brain tumors can cause a variety of symptoms including memory loss. Many people care about dementia and forgetfulness but pay little attention to the possibility of having a brain tumor, and rarely consider having an MRI brain scan. We call this “the unmet needs” the unfulfilled needs due to people’s beliefs that it is unlikely to happen. We will be able to give proper treatment to our patients if we can simply conduct tests with a single drop of urine and diagnose brain tumors at an earlier stage. We believe that Craif’s groundbreaking technology can make this happen.

 

 Genomics Unit, Keio Cancer Center, University School of Medicine, Non-tenured Assistant Professor / Hokuto Hospital Oncology Research Institute, Doctor

Dr. Yasutaka Kato :

Next generation sequencer has accelerated the development of genetic analysis technology and thanks to the rapidly progressing field of “cancer genomics”, a comprehensive study on oncogenes, the cancer patient outcomes have improved over the years. Nonetheless, treating highly malignant cancer is extremely difficult. The only way to cure cancer is to “find it at an earlier stage and give early treatment”, but implementing early cancer detection method is difficult since it needs to clear many hurdles including speed, cost, accuracy, and physical stress on patients. I am confident that Craif’s research and technology could overcome these restrictions and open up new avenues for cancer therapy.

 

■Craif’s Technology and the Value It Creates

As a startup incubated at Nagoya University, Craif is developing an innovative exosome biomarker discovery platform by capturing exosomes comprehensively from urine samples with microfabrication technology. Also, by leveraging AI analytics, the platform enables early detection of cancer, as well as, selecting tailored treatment for each individual patient from a single drop of urine.

Craif’s core technology is the unique zinc oxide nanowire-based exosome extraction device. Containing various biomolecules including proteins and nucleic acids, exosome is attracting worldwide attention for its potential as biomarkers for various diseases. Our device can not only efficiently extract exosomes, but also detect over 1,300 types of miRNA, which is deeply related to the development and progression of diseases. Combining AI analysis with this leading-edge technology enabled us to succeed in detecting cancer with a high degree of accuracy. Through the application of this technology, we aim to develop a more accurate cancer detection method using just a single drop of urine to facilitate early diagnosis and the selection of an appropriate treatment for each individual patient. We will continue to strive to ultimately realize a future where no one will lose their lives to cancer.

 

 

2020,June.17

Icaria Inc. Announces Closing of Series A Funding Round and Company Name Change to “Craif Inc.”

Icaria Inc. (Headquarter: Bunkyo-ku, Japan, President & CEO:Ryuichi Onose, “Icaria”) today announces that it has successfully closed its Series A funding round from ANRI (Japanese venture capital firm), Daiwa Corporate Investment Co., Ltd., Aflac Ventures LLC., Mori Trust Co., Ltd., FF APAC Scout (A scout vehicle of US venture capital firm Founders Fund), and a few other investors. Coinciding with the round closure, Icaria Inc. will officially change its name to “Craif Inc.” (“Craif”) on Thursday, June 17, 2020.

From left to right: Ryuichi Onose(President and CEO),Takao Yasui,Ph.D.(Scientific Adviser&Co-Founder),
Mika Mizunuma,Ph.D.(Chief Operating Officer), and Yuki Ichikawa.Ph.D.,(Chief Technology Officer)    

<Series A Funding >
■The Purpose of this Funding
As a startup incubated at Nagoya University, Craif is developing an innovative exosome biomarker discovery platform that captures exosomes comprehensively from urine samples with microfabrication technology. Also by leveraging AI analytics,the platform enables early detection of cancer, as well as, selecting tailored treatment for each individual patient from a single drop of urine. This Series A funding will be used to expand clinical trials, accelerate research and bring their disease screenings to market.

■New investors
Daiwa Corporate Investment Co.,Ltd.(Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan, President & CEO: Kiyohisa Hirano)
Aflac Ventures LLC. (Headquarters: Georgia, United States, President: Nadeem Khan)
Mori Trust Co.(Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan, President: Miwako Date)
FF APAC Scout (Headquarters: California, United States)
US-based health and sustainability fund
+ one other major company

■Existing investor
ANRI (Headquarters: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, President and CEO: Anri Samata)

 

<Comments from the Investors>

Kiyohisa Hirano, President & CEO, Daiwa Corporate Investment Co.,Ltd.
We were attracted by the uniqueness of the company’s “non-invasive urinal cancer test”, the depth of its research utilizing “exosome biomarker discovery platform”, and most importantly, Craif’s talented management team with an extremely clear shared vision at such an early stage. Our decision to invest in Craif was also based on our expectation that its business contributes to the SDGs, which we endorse. We are looking forward to seeing Onose and his team members to achieve even greater growth.


Tomoyuki Shimada, Managing Director, Aflac Innovation Partners G.K., Aflac Ventures LLC.
Cancer screenings and diagnostic tests have been attracting attention, and these tests must not only be affordable, but also fast and highly accurate. We are very excited to invest in Craif’s technology, that could realize a highly accurate, early detection cancer tests. Through this investment, we are pleased to support Craif’s R&D to develop their technology which could increase cancer screening uptake.


Miwako Date, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mori Trust Co., Ltd.
Under our corporate slogan “Create the Future,” we aim to provide solutions to solve social issues by creating new value through a combination of innovative technologies, services, and our various resources. We highly evaluate the social significance of Craif’s technology and its capability to contribute to long and healthy life through early detection of cancer. As we are working on proposing a wellness experience called “Wellness Go” to create a society where everyone can enjoy a healthy and vibrant life, we are excited to work together with Craif.


Jeffrey Lonsdale, Investor, FF APAC Scout
It is easier to convince patients to get their urine tested than to get a blood test, so I am excited by the vast increase in early cancer detection that Craif’s technology should enable.


Masahiro Sameshima, General Partner, ANRI 
When I met Mr.Onose, I told him, “If you’re going ‘all-in’, you’re probably betting on the wrong horse. We’ve got to change the world with this technology.” It has been two years since I started supporting him from the launch of this company. I’m thrilled to see him surrounded by his great team members now. Let’s continue to work hard to confront the issue of Japan’s aging population head-on.
Change the World, Craif! The game is on! 

<Company Name Change>
■New Company Name
Craif Inc.

■New Company Logo

■Effective Date
Thursday, June 17, 2020

■New Corporate Website
https://craif.com/

■The Story Behind the Name
Our new company name, Craif, comes from the combination of two words: “Crane”, which symbolizes long life in Japan, and “Life”. Based on our vision “to ensure lifelong health to everyone”, Craif will make every effort to provide painless, accurate, and early detection of cancer by urine tests. Early detection of cancer is one of the most critical issues that will lead to longer healthy life expectancy and reduce medical expenses. That is why we believe that it is an issue that should be proactively addressed in Japan, the fastest aging country in the world. The name “Craif” represents our passion and ambition to tackle this challenge and contribute to creating a successful model of an aged society.

■Craif’s Technology and the Value It Creates
As a startup incubated at Nagoya University, Craif is developing an innovative exosome biomarker discovery platform by capturing exosomes comprehensively from urine samples with microfabrication technology. Also by leveraging AI analytics, , the platform enables early detection of cancer, as well as, selecting tailored treatment for each individual patient from a single drop of urine.

Craif’s core technology is the unique zinc oxide nanowire-based exosome extraction device. Containing various biomolecules including proteins and nucleic acids, exosome is attracting worldwide attention for its potential as biomarkers for various diseases. Our device can not only efficiently extract exosomes, but also detect over 1,300 types of miRNA, which is deeply related to the development and progression of diseases. Combining AI analysis with this leading-edge technology enabled us to succeed in detecting cancer with a high degree of accuracy. Through the application of this technology, we aim to develop a more accurate cancer detection method using just a single drop of urine to facilitate early diagnosis and the selection of an appropriate treatment for each individual patient. We will continue to strive to ultimately realize a future where no one will lose their lives to cancer.

 

2020,April.07

Dr. Takao Yasui, co-founder and technical advisor, was awarded “Young Scientists Award” by MEXT

We are pleased to announce that our co-founder and technical advisor, Takao Yasui, was awarded the Young Scientists’ Prize of Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2020 for his research entitled “Creation of Innovative Bioanalytical Methods for Controlling Nanospaces”.

<Comments from Dr. Takao Yasui on receiving the award>

In order to address the social challenge of achieving a healthy and long-lived society, innovative methods of analyzing the exosome has been coveted by cancer and other medical researchers around the world.

Based on an elaborate nanospace design strategy, I have successfully realized an exosome analysis method that was previously thought to be impossible.

This technology led to the co-founding of Icaria. We will continue to contribute to the promotion of health and medical-related industries and the extension of healthy life expectancy through the development of technology for early cancer diagnosis.