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UK biotech startup Kuano lands £1M for AI-driven drug discovery

With artificial intelligence (AI) geared up to transform the pharmaceutical industry, a growing number of biotech and pharma startups are harnessing cutting-edge AI technology for drug discovery and drug remodelling. 

To shift the COVID-19 tide and get things back to normal, the sector has become a hotbed for growing investments. Investors have been increasingly optimistic about the promise of AI in drug discovery and pouring more money into AI-driven biotech startups

Creating more effective medicines

Joining this growing AI-driven pharmaceutical ecosystem is Kuano.ai. The London-based AI biotech company, which was established in March 2020, has now raised £1 million in seed funding today. The investments come from ACF Investors, o2h Ventures and a syndicate of Cambridge-based angel investors. 

Growing demand for enzyme inhibition

The startup combines quantum physics, artificial intelligence (AI) and medicinal chemistry in a unique approach to transforming the discovery of therapeutics focused on enzyme inhibition. 

Enzymes represent the largest class of drug targets, with over $40 billion of pharmaceutical sales attributable to small molecule inhibitors of enzymes. The market is seeing considerable demand for enzyme inhibitors, which can provide improved drug potency, selectivity or reduced susceptibility to resistance.

The startup is using its platform to advance its own pipeline of novel therapeutics targeting unmet medical needs, as well as in collaborative programs with leading academic and commercial partners. This includes a recent research collaboration with Alzheimer’s Research UK University College London Drug Discovery Institute to identify inhibitors for treating degenerative neurological disorders.

Data bank creation

The £1 million in funding will go towards expanding the technology team and the further development of the company’s platform and asset development, including its own range of novel therapeutics. It will also be used to create a data bank for use in its work with academic and commercial partners.

Rollout of new range of therapeutics 

Founded in March of last year by Dr. Vid Stojevic and David Wright just when the pandemic engulfed the entire world, the startup saw a market need and has capitalized on it.

Dr. Vid Stojevic, co-founder and CEO of Kuano said: “Building upon years of research, this funding will drive the development of our platform, facilitate the rollout of our own range of therapeutics and expand our team. As our recent collaboration with the UCL Drug Discovery Institute has shown, we are beginning to have a potent effect on the pharmaceutical industry and I am looking forward to the many ways in which we can make a decisive contribution to medicine worldwide”

Tim Mills, Managing Partner of ACF Investors said: “This startup is a great example of the strength of deep tech in the UK. It has the potential to transform the discovery of enzyme inhibitors and create significantly more effective medicines.”

Sunil Shah, CEO at o2h Ventures said: “Being able to more accurately understand and predict subtle changes around enzyme’s active sites could unlock faster opportunities to push inhibitors for difficult drug targets through discovery and development.”