Enveda Biosciences has raised a seed round of $4.9 million to build what it touts to be the “world’s largest database of anthropological, chemical and biological data from medicinal plants.”
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Viswa Colluru, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Enveda, told Crunchbase News that being born and raised in India prepared him for a life at a biotechnology company building new medicines from plants.
“‘It is common in India to use medicinal plants to treat symptoms,” Colluru said. “After losing a parent to cancer, I decided to study science and get my Ph.D. in immunotherapy.”
While working at Recursion Pharmaceuticals, he began to look into why so many drugs failed in the lab. While trying to answer his question, Colluru decided to use artificial intelligence to look at what existed in nature and why plants were used as treatments.
As he examined it more, he decided to start his own company. Enveda, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 2019 and following the seed raise, is ready to come out of stealth mode, Colluru said.
Rohit Sharma, partner at True Ventures, said in an interview that multiple people pointed to Enveda as a startup he needed to look into. The firm focuses on founders at the seed stage.
“One of the things that clicked is the potential is so large,” Sharma said. “They are building with nature rather than replacing it, and we are going to see more of this in biology.”
The funding will be used to increase the size of the database, develop algorithms to further accelerate natural product drug discovery, and advance its lead drug candidate for liver fibrosis, Colluru said.
Enveda’s database already has hundreds of thousands of unique chemicals and their links to biological signatures. Colluru eventually wants to collaborate with people in different countries to get access to other plants.
The company uses machine-learning algorithms to predict new chemicals that have the potential to treat complex diseases, and then optimizes those in the lab to create drug candidates.
In addition to liver fibrosis, the company has validated two other candidates targeting inflammation and neurodegenerative markets. It has other drug candidates in the pipeline.
Next up, Enveda plans to grow its 25 employees across the U.S. and in India to 35 and raise its Series A round in the next year, Colluru said.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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