Posts Taged healthcare

Mitsui and Preferred Networks to Establish Joint Venture to Provide Biomedical/Healthcare Solutions, Including Cancer Diagnostic Service, Based on Deep Learning Technology

Nov. 15, 2018, Tokyo Japan – Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (“Mitsui”, Head Office: Tokyo, President and Chief Executive Officer: Tatsuo Yasunaga) and Preferred Networks, Inc. (“PFN”, Head Office: Tokyo, President & CEO: Toru Nishikawa) entered into an agreement on November 15, 2018 to establish a new joint venture in the United States to commercialize deep learning based biomedical/healthcare solutions. The CEO of the new joint venture will be Nobuyuki Ota, COO of Preferred Networks America, Inc.


In recent years, deep learning technology has made significant progress in providing innovation across various industries. These innovations have been notably recognized in the fields of biomedical/healthcare, through applications in drug discovery, diagnostics and treatment, and other related areas.

The global market for deep learning based biomedical/healthcare solutions is expected to grow continuously. PFN has set cancer diagnostics as one of its key focus areas, and by combining PFN’s technology in cancer diagnostics with Mitsui’s network in the healthcare field, including hospital groups, related assets, as well as business partners, the joint venture aims to accelerate the development of the business, and implementation of the technology into society.

Upon the establishment of the joint venture, Mitsui and PFN will accelerate research and development of deep learning based biomedical/healthcare solutions for the early detection of cancer, aiming to resolve societal issues.

Comments from Satoshi Tanaka,
Representative Director and Executive Vice President of Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Healthcare related businesses have been positioned as a growth area in our Medium-term Management Plan. We are delighted to collaborate with PFN, a leading deep learning technology company, to develop innovative technologies and expand its business overseas.


Comments from Toru Nishikawa,
President and CEO of Preferred Networks, Inc.

Since 2014, PFN has been continuously engaged in research and development to apply deep learning technology to the field of medicine. We are extremely pleased to be able to extend our partnership with Mitsui in launching collaborative projects that utilize the results of these R&D efforts, including those in a cancer diagnosis, in the United States.


Comments from Nobuyuki Ota,
COO of Preferred Networks America, Inc.

We aim to develop an early cancer diagnostics service based on deep learning technology. Our goal is to save people who potentially suffer from cancer through early detection, and ultimately establish a preventive healthcare platform.



Profile of Joint venture (Tentative)

Name of Company Preferred Medicine, Inc.
Head Office 330 Primrose Road., Burlingame, CA, USA, 94010
Establishment November 2018
CEO Nobuyuki Ota
Capital US$1 million (Mitsui 50%, PFN 50%)
Business activities Development and operation of biomedical/healthcare solutions, initially focusing on cancer diagnostics based on deep learning as well as other types of machine learning technology

Preferred Networks and PFDeNA launch joint research project to develop a deep learning-based system to detect 14 types of cancers with a small amount of blood

Aim to bring to market by 2021 to extend healthy life expectancy with early cancer detection

Oct. 29, 2018, Tokyo Japan – Preferred Networks, Inc. and PFDeNA Inc. will start research and development to create a blood test system that utilizes deep learning technology to detect 14 types of cancers*1 in their early stages.

In this R&D initiative, PFN and PFDeNA will use blood samples (DNA repository samples) and clinical information, both collected by the National Cancer Center Japan (NCC) for research purposes with donor consent. PFDeNA will measure the expression levels of ExRNA*2 in the DNA repository samples by using a next-generation sequencer*3 in a manner that does not identify individuals. PFN will apply deep learning technology to learn, evaluate, and analyze the measurements together with clinical data. The aim is to put the resulting system to practical use, which will be able to accurately determine the presence or absence and kind of cancer based on ExRNA expression levels in the blood.


Social background

Cancer is the leading cause of death among Japanese people, with about one in two developing cancer in their lifetimes. The number of Japanese who died from cancer is more than 370,000 a year and continuing to rise. This amounts to one out of every 3.6 deaths being caused by cancer *.

Even though it is critical to detect cancer at an early stage, screening rates for various types of cancers remain at roughly 30%, one of the lowest among developed countries. Each type of cancer has its own screening methods and requires different areas and organs in our bodies to be tested. The level of accuracy differs from one test to another. The burden of taking these tests need to be reduced both physically and financially in order to improve the screening rates.

Against this backdrop, many studies have been reported recently on gene expression of ExRNAs which include miRNAs*4, bringing to light miRNA expressions that are unique biomarkers of cancer in each organ. Because the types or numbers of miRNAs expressed in bodily fluids will change once a person has cancer, researchers have high expectations that it will become easier to diagnose cancers using easily-collectible bodily fluids, such as blood.


Going forward

After PMDA’s*5 review and approval, PFN and PFDeNA aim to develop the results of this research into a business by 2021 and promote its widespread use in Japan.

The high-precision, low-impact screening system will require only a small amount of blood to detect 14 types of cancers in their early stages and is expected to become a common cancer test in the future. Through early cancer detection, PFN and PFDeNA will contribute to efforts to decrease the mortality rate, to reduce medical costs, to extending healthy life expectancy and increasing cancer screening rates in Japan.


*1 The 14 types of cancers covered in this research are stomach cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, bile duct cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer.

*2 ExRNA is an RNA existent in the blood and other bodily fluids, mainly miRNA (microRNA) in this research. miRNA helps regulate a variety of biological activities and is expected to be used as a diagnostic biomarker.

*3 A next-generation sequencer is a piece of equipment used to sequence the base pairs of human genes in parallel at high speed.

*4 miRNA is a ribonucleic acid that is about 20 bases long and plays a role in regulating gene expression.

*5 PMDA is an acronym for the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency of Japan, which is an organization that conducts the scientific review for quality, efficacy, and safety of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

*Source: “Summary of Vital Statistics for 2017” (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)