Research & Development

Development from Fundamental Research

Our CEO, Dr. Takaaki Hirotsu, conducted research while a doctoral student at the University of Tokyo that revealed for the first time that the Ras-MAPK pathway plays a role in nematode (C. elegans) olfaction (Nature 2000), and also successfully created the world’s first visual representation of the activation process (Scientific Reports 2012). Patterns of volatile components affected by multiple receptors that perform nematode olfaction using RNAi screening have also been analyzed (Science Signaling 2014). Research has also revealed the mechanisms that affect creation of odor preference in nematodes (Science 2010, Nature Neuroscience 2009, Nature Communications 2012).

Inspired by this research, in conjunction with previous research which suggests that cancer has a distinguish odor, and the exceptional olfactory senses of nematodes, Hirotsu invented a new cancer screening method called N-NOSE based on the ability of nematodes to use their sense of smell to be attracted only to the urine of cancer patients, and not that of healthy subjects.
(PCT patent pending, PLoS One 2015; Figure 1)

When compared to existing tumor markers, the sensitivity of N-NOSE was detected to be higher (Table 1). There is a possibility for it to be useful for the early detection of cancer, as even Stage 0 and Stage 1 cancers were detected with approximately 90% accuracy.

Using this technology as a basis, HIROTSU BIO began clinical research on participants at Nanpuh Hospital in Kagoshima Prefecture. Urine samples of 63 individuals diagnosed with cancer underwent N-NOSE testing, resulting in a demonstrated sensitivity of 90.5% (Table 2).

The results showed that when performed on the same patient, N-NOSE is overwhelmingly more sensitive compared to the other tumor markers (CEA: 20.6%, CA19-9: 28.6%), and also demonstrated the effectiveness of N-NOSE with a high level of sensitivity of 90.0% for gallbladder and biliary tract cancer, which is difficult to detect with current methods.