Brazilian deeptech startup creates artificial intelligence to assist in early cancer detection – MPI

Brazilian deeptech startup creates artificial intelligence to assist in early cancer detection


Founded in 2022, Huna aims to improve the diagnostic process through technology.

According to the National Cancer Institute (INCA), the chances of a cure can reach 90% when the disease is identified in its early stages, highlighting the importance of technologies and tests for early detection.

In this context, Huna emerges. The startup develops AI solutions to facilitate the early detection of multiple types of cancer, using routine blood tests such as a complete blood count, cholesterol, glucose, among other blood markers.

Huna’s proposal is to provide support to health managers, oncology hospitals, and other professionals in the sector, making the cancer diagnostic process more accurate and efficient through technology.

Daniella Castro, CTO and co-founder of Huna, shares in a conversation with Startups: “We are already witnessing highly sophisticated algorithms in use in social networks and digital marketing, but in medicine, we are still tied to linear standards. However, the biological processes of our organism do not follow this linearity. The lenses of artificial intelligence allow us to identify body patterns much more accurately.”

The entrepreneur emphasizes that the goal is not to replace crucial exams like mammography, but rather to complement them as a support tool for early diagnosis. “We don’t determine whether the patient has cancer or not, but through the analysis of the complete blood count, we can classify their risk level regarding the disease,” explains Daniella. In addition to her experience as an entrepreneur, Daniella is an innovator in the IT field, with extensive knowledge in leadership, machine learning, strategic planning, and a PhD in artificial intelligence.

“Before founding Huna, Daniella had a diverse professional trajectory, including stints at organizations such as Petrobras and Kunumi, an artificial intelligence company, where she contributed to a series of projects spanning areas such as Alzheimer’s disease prediction, Covid-19 diagnosis, and early cancer detection.

“In all of these projects, we identified predictive blood indicators for various diseases. However, the focus was not necessarily on developing practical solutions, and that left me somewhat disheartened to see that this research and insight were not really positively impacting people. It was then that I joined Vinícius Ribeiro and Marco Kohara, also from Kunumi, with the purpose of creating a specific solution from these findings,” she explains.”

Impact Potential

In 2022, Huna raised nearly US$1 million in pre-seed funding from prominent investors such as Big Bets, Niu Ventures, and Kortex, the latter being a corporate venture capital fund linked to Grupo Fleury and Grupo Sabin. These resources were allocated to technology improvement.

The product developed by Huna focuses on breast cancer detection – one of the most common forms of the disease among women. “I experienced the personal experience of having a friend diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. It was from that moment that I understood that this illness is highly treatable when detected early. We chose to start our efforts with breast cancer due to its relevance not only in my life but also in the lives of thousands of individuals around the world,” says Daniella.

“A large contingent of women does not undergo mammogram exams, which are essential for early disease detection. Huna’s differential lies precisely in the ability to detect cancers through routine, more accessible, and economical blood tests than complex procedures, thus making disease screening more accessible to all,” she emphasizes.

Currently, the expectation is to direct research investments to expand the technology, aiming at the early detection of other types of cancer – especially the most prevalent globally, such as colorectal, prostate, and cervical cancer – and to intensify efforts to market the solution. With this purpose, the startup is initiating a seed round.

However, Daniella Castro recognizes not only the difficulties imposed by the current market situation, which still feels the effects of economic adjustment and high interest rates but also the challenges inherent in the general ecosystem when it comes to investments in deeptechs – startups grounded in deep and scientific technologies. According to the “Deep Tech – The New Wave” report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), investments in these companies are estimated to grow 20 times in the next ten years in Latin America, jumping from US$172 million in 2022 to US$3.44 billion in a decade.

Therefore, it is highly likely that Huna’s next round of fundraising will be carried out with international investors – who have already shown interest in the solution. “We are observing a growing space abroad and have received invitations to dialogue with potential international partners,” says Daniella.

Global Recognition

Despite having only a few years of existence, Huna is already attracting the attention of major market players. Last year, the deeptech was one of the five winners of the Women Empowerment Award, granted by the Bayer Foundation. More recently, Daniella was selected as one of the 20 finalists of the 2024 Aurora Tech Award, a global program by inDrive that recognizes women founders of IT startups who are challenging gender inequality with projects of positive social impact. With this achievement, Daniella became the first Brazilian to reach the finals since the launch of the initiative in 2021.

“The appreciation of women’s achievements is of utmost importance. Awards like these contribute to having more examples of female entrepreneurs and serve as a model for other women – it’s an inspiring cycle. For the company, this represents the recognition of our effort to create something new, validating that our approach and the problems we seek to solve are indeed relevant,” explains Daniella. To reach the final of the Aurora Tech Award, Daniella competed with 649 projects from candidates worldwide and intends to leverage the visibility gained to attract potential partners and investors.

The Aurora Tech Award is a global program by inDrive that recognizes women founders of information technology startups who are challenging gender inequality with projects of positive social impact. The award aims to highlight and support entrepreneurs who are making a difference in the technology sector, promoting diversity and inclusion in the field of startups.

Aurora Tech Award finalists are selected from a large number of candidates worldwide based on criteria such as innovation, potential for social impact, project feasibility, and leadership of the founders. The award not only recognizes the hard work and dedication of women entrepreneurs but also offers visibility and networking opportunities, helping startups

Danielle Berry
Danielle Berry

an editor at MPI since 2023.


You will never be asked to make a payment to access any kind of product, including credit cards, loans, or other offers. If this happens, please contact us immediately. Always read the terms and conditions of the service provider you are contacting. We earn revenue through advertising and referrals for some, but not all, products displayed on this website. Everything published here is based on quantitative and qualitative research, and our team strives to be as fair as possible in comparing competing options.


We are an independent, objective, and advertising-supported editorial site. To support our ability to provide free content to our users, recommendations appearing on our site may come from companies from which we receive compensation as affiliates. This compensation may affect the manner, location, and order in which offers appear on our site. Other factors, such as our own proprietary algorithms and first-party data, may also affect how and where products/offers are placed. We do not include on our website all financial or credit offers currently available in the market.


The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by any of the entities mentioned in the message. That said, the compensation we receive from our affiliate partners does not influence the recommendations or advice that our team of writers provides in our articles, nor does it in any way affect the content of this website. Although we work hard to provide accurate and up-to-date information that we believe our users will find relevant, we cannot guarantee that all provided information is complete and make no statement or warranty regarding its accuracy or applicability.