'As the market has turned': Enveda secures $68M to move revised pipeline into the clinic in 2023
Enveda Biosciences will enter the clinic next year with at least one of its three main programs thanks to a $68 million boost in financing — about $55 million via equity and the remainder debt.
Founded by an early employee at AI startup Recursion Pharmaceuticals, Enveda has adjusted its priorities since disclosing a $51 million Series A in June 2021. At the time, CEO Viswa Colluru told Endpoints News the three core areas were Wilson disease, NASH and Parkinson’s.
Now, three relatively new programs are progressing in tandem, Colluru told Endpoints in a preview of the Series B, which was announced Wednesday but closed a few months ago. On deck are molecules that modulate the inflammasome pathway; non-opioid oral and topical analgesics for pain and itch; and a program going after neutrophil and immune cell biology to potentially treat fibrotic indications, the CEO said.
“The assets that we had early on were largely in an environment where we were willing to take on multiple different kinds of risks — so biological risk, feasibility risk with large and complex diseases, as well as ultimately commercial risk,” Colluru explained. “I think as the market has turned, what we’ve done at Enveda is to ask, ‘OK, can we use our differentiated chemistry and the broadly applicable biological pathways that they actually help us hit to move toward indications that have greater optionality?'”
Expect the first in-human study late next year or early 2024, he said: “We’re going to push all of our programs in parallel.”
“The industry is typically starting with genomically-discovered targets and then employing an arsenal of purified synthetic compounds,” Colluru said. “On the other hand, we get to play in completely different chemical spaces. We start with pools of diverse natural compounds from, you know, hundreds of medicinal plants that have a deep history of human use.”
Those chemistries are “not in anyone else’s libraries,” he continued. The popular area of protein degradation is on the biotech’s radar, as is the relatively newer offshoot of protein stabilization.
Enveda is far from the only startup touting the use of machine learning in discovering new drugs. Schrödinger is entering the clinic with its first in-house asset; BenevolentAI is helping AstraZeneca find fibrotic and kidney disease targets; Sanofi is in the arena with Exscientia and Atomwise; and the list goes on, including Colluru’s former employer.
In recent months, Colluru’s 170-employee startup expanded its executive team. Former Pear Therapeutics and Cullgen EVP Mark Deeg joined as chief medical officer in October, and Vanitha Sekar jumped from Gilead to become chief business officer.