Gearing Up For Victory
I know it’s old hat, but the COVID-19 pandemic has really put a challenge on the global health system of every state on the planet, especially the poorer ones. To counter this, the giant pharmaceutical companies (and some smaller concerns) are now running trials on suitable drugs to combat the novel Coronavirus, gearing up to defeating it. Skeptics, however, doubt they ever will. Yet still, in times of crisis you’ve got to give them brownie points for trying.
Medical experts around the globe, too, with different approaches and beliefs to the best course of action to fight the pandemic, seem to be in the dark about it as much as the average citizen. These leading minds, then, in charge of the whole debacle — no doubt arrogant and selfish and with plenty of hubris on show — can’t agree an iota.
With that, isn’t it just better to lean on technology, or at least give it a go? And if we do, should we take a chance on the most advanced hard tech forms out there?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum information science (QIS) — though the latter is still very much in its infancy in regard to useful, real-world applications that do a job — have to be seen as a worthy moonshot.
Established companies and newer startups in quantum and AI solutions in biopharma have been around for a while with the likes of Quantum Pharmaceutical, ChemAlive, Entropica Labs, Menten Biotechnology Lab, Pharmacelera, Polaris Quantum Biotech, ProteinQure, Riverlane, and probably the most successful commercially out of the bunch, Zapata Computing, are doing their bit to improve people’s health on the planet by manipulating atoms, electrons, photons and anything else from the subatomic world ending in an ‘on’.
Another to add to the list is Kuano, a startup ‘providing innovative quantum and AI solutions for molecular design’. Founded in March of this year by Vid Stojevic and David Wright just when the ‘Great Covid-19 Pandemic’ was locking down the planet, the startup saw a market need and has capitalized on it.
Providing Innovative Quantum and AI Solutions for Molecular Design
Quantum and AI technologies offer the possibility of not only creating new opportunities in current procedures in the designing of molecules in the pharmaceutical industry, but in industrial chemistry and even in really outlandish industries as agriculture management, too.
Kuano’s services offer clients full turnkey inhibitor design projects, as well as the where, when and how quantum technologies will have the most impact on industry.
Since the startup came about in the early spring, they have achieved some important milestones:
In April, proving the startup has serious intentions, it joined CompBioMed, a European HPC Centre of Excellence as an associate partner. CompBioMed unifies leading academic institutions, and membership provides access to state-of-the-art computer resources, but also research and innovation support. In May, Kuano joined the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium where they will work with AWS to identify, using a combination of virtual screening and ML approaches, novel COVID-19 drugs. And best of all, this summer, Kuano won an InnovateUK grant. The grant is for ‘business-led innovation in response to global disruption’. Given so, the startup can ‘develop a combined AI and modelling service for rapid response drug design’ adapting to models formulated during the Asian SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.
All this innovation has come about off the research of Kuano’s founding team, Vid Stojevic and David Wright.
Stojevic is Kuano’s CEO and the co-founder of GTN Ltd, an early startup in the QC pharmaceutical space no longer active, unfortunately. With a Ph.D. from King’s College London in string theory physics, he also specializes in many-body quantum physics, tensor networks, ML, mathematical modelling, data analysis, and programming.
CTO of the startup and the other co-founder is David Wright. Like Stojevic, he worked at GTN Ltd as the computational chemistry lead and gained a Ph.D. in chemistry at the same alma mater as Stojevic. With skills as a researcher and software engineer, he’s Kuano’s computational biophysics specialist.
My favourite French existential novelist, Albert Camus, wrote in his great novel The Plague:
“What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well. It helps men to rise above themselves.”
The Coronavirus — like Aids and the Flu — is here to stay. Anyone that doubts that assumption is fooling themselves or Donald Trump. It will take the efforts of Kuano and the other concerns mentioned, with the help of quantum information science, to shift the COVID-19 tide and get things back to ‘normal’.
And startups like Kuano are part of that shift.