Japan’s CureApp gets $3.4 million for lifestyle diseases treatment using mobile apps


See the original story in Japanese.

Japan’s digital health startup CureApp announced on Monday that it has fundraised 380 million yen (about $3.4 million) from Beyond Next Ventures, Keio Innovation Initiative and SBI Investment. This funding is subsequent to the 100 million yen (about $890,000) from Beyond Next Ventures in October of 2015. With the money raised this time, the firm enhances its research and development system in order to realize a disease treatment using mobile apps.

CureApp CEO Kohta Satake, MD

The company was founded in July of 2014 by two medical doctors: Kohta Satake (CEO) and Shin Suzuki (CTO). The firm is one of the leading players in the medical app vertical under the theme of “app exhibits therapeutic effects against diseases” and launched a nicotine addiction treatment app in February 2015, which was jointly developed with Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Keio University’s School of Medicine. It is currently conducting clinical trials in many locations.

CureApp’s nicotine addiction treatment app

The company was selected as a participant of the Hiyaku Next Enterprise program, an innovation encouragement program sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. While CEO Satake was staying at San Francisco to take part in the Silicon Valley course as a part of the program, he replied to our interview about his firm’s view.

Subsequent to the above-mentioned nicotine addiction treatment app, CureApp had jointly developed a NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis remedy) treatment app with Department of Gastroenterology, the University of Tokyo, and has been conducting a clinical trial as well. NASH is hepatitis caused by obesity or diabetes and is one of the typical lifestyle diseases treatable by improving dietary habits. According to Satake, the firm plans a horizontal spread of medical apps for treatment / management of other lifestyle diseases including diabetes, depression and lung cancer, in addition to the two apps.

As for development of the mobile apps, the firm adopted React Native, a app development platform invented by Facebook enabling easy development of apps available for iOS / Android only with JavaScript knowledge.

CureApp’s NASH treatment app

The CureApp NASH app was fully made with the React Native environment while the nicotine treatment app has also been porting to it. The platform will be adopted to all the firm’s other apps in the future. Kensuke Takagi, engineering team lead of CureApp, has been
making efforts to penetrate this new technology by repeatedly giving presentations at various events held in the Tokyo area such as React Native Meetup.

CureApp is also seeking a way to expand its business to the US through cooperation with local medical institutions, and that is one of the reasons for Satake’s visit to the US. If the apps are approved by FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) after clinical trials in the US, a global development may be possible. One of its investors, Beyond Next Ventures, had recently tied up with San Francisco-based bio-science accelerator IndieBio, and such a movement may boost the firm’s future growth.

You can download the CureApp’s apps from iTunes AppStore or Google Play, but the apps requires use under the guidance of a partnered medical institution due to the nature of medical apps.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy