Mercia EIS Funds

Quantum drug discovery platform raises £1.8m

Kuano, a drug discovery company combining quantum mechanics with AI to design the next generation of medicines, has closed a £1.8m seed funding round led by Mercia Ventures and including ACF Investors, Ascension Ventures, o2h Ventures, Meltwind Advisory LLP, and other angel investors.

The investment will facilitate further validation of Kuano’s platform for the design of more effective potential drugs to target enzymes, as well as continued company growth through strategic partnerships and recruitment.

Dysfunctional enzymes are implicated in many human diseases and are a common target for drugs. 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, opening new possibilities for more effective drug design. By combining these unique enzyme profiles with its suite of AI tools, Kuano can then predict the best structures with which to target them.

Potential drugs designed this way are a precise match to the target enzyme, and 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, Co-founder and CEO, 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.”

Kuano was co-founded in 2020 by Drs Vid Stojevic, an expert in quantum physics and AI, David Wright, who specialises in molecular modelling and simulation, Parminder Ruprah, a highly experienced ‘drug hunter’, and Jarryl D’Oyley, an expert computational medicinal chemist. The latest seed funding brings the total investment it has raised to date to £2.8m.

In this round, Mercia was investing from its EIS funds.

Robert Hornby of Mercia Ventures said: “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, ACF Investors, added: “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.”

Kuano was advised by venture capital advisory firm KPMG Acceleris.