Kuano raises £1.8 million to accelerate quantum drug discovery

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags quantum computing Drug discovery funding Enzyme

Kuano, a drug discovery company combining quantum mechanics with AI, has announced the close of its £1.8 million seed funding round, led by Mercia Ventures, and including ACF Investors, Ascension Ventures, o2h Ventures, Meltwind Advisory LLP, and other Angel investors.

According to the company, the investment will facilitate further validation of Kuano’s quantum simulation platform for the design of more effective drug candidates targeting enzymes.

Dysfunctional enzymes are implicated in many human diseases and are therefore a prevalent target in today’s drug market.

However, until now scientists have only been able to view enzymes in their ‘resting’ state, and not in their fully functioning ‘dynamic’ states. As different enzymes may appear very similar in a resting state, drugs designed to target one may also affect others, potentially impacting drug safety and efficacy.

Kuano’s quantum simulation platform enables scientists to see and model enzymes in their dynamic state, potentially enabling more effective drug design.

Combining these unique enzyme profiles with its AI tools, Kuano can then predict the best structures with which to target them.

Drug candidates designed this way are a precise match to the target enzyme, meaning that they are therefore likely to be more potent with fewer side effects. The platform has already been validated in three separate disease areas, including bowel cancer and lymphoma.

Vid Stojevic, CEO and co-founder of Kuano, said: “Enzymes play a wide-ranging role in disease, but current technologies are unable to develop drugs to tackle most of them. Our team at Kuano recognised the need to overcome these limitations. Our platform creates a ‘quantum lens’ that reveals the difference between enzymes and allows us to target each one individually, without affecting the others. This funding round will not only allow us to continue our laboratory work, but also to strengthen our management team and prepare the company for scaling.”

Robert Hornby, venture capital investor at Mercia, added: “Fewer than 20% of enzymes have so far been targeted by drugs because of the difficulty in understanding their dynamic states. Kuano’s quantum simulation platform goes beyond existing AI models and means they can design drugs for previously ‘undruggable’ enzymes. The company addresses a huge untapped market and has already attracted the attention of leading pharmaceutical companies. This investment will enable it to move to the next stage.”

Tim Mills, managing partner at ACF Investors, commented: “We are excited to be working with Kuano as they go from strength to strength. Artificial intelligence and quantum computing will continue to have a staggering effect on the way the biotech industry operates and Kuano’s quantum capabilities will be a core part of this. We are truly excited to see what Kuano does next.”

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