Kanvas Biosciences Secures Additional $12.5M Funding

Kanvas Biosciences, a full-stack spatial biology company, today announced it has raised $12.5 million in additional funding co-led by existing investors DCVC and Lions Capital LLC, and participation from FemHealth VenturesGermin8, Ki Tua Fund, and Pangaea Ventures as well as existing investors. Paul Theunissen, Managing Partner at Lions Capital Partners LLC, will join the company’s Board, and Ashlie L Burkart, MD, Chief Scientific Officer of Germin8 Ventures, will join as a board observer. The fresh capital closely follows a June 2023 round and brings Kanvas’s total funding to $29.5 million. The funding will be used to further develop the company’s spatial biology platform and advance two novel therapeutics in its Immuno-oncology Program, KAN-001 and KAN-003 — KAN-001 to an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing in 2025.

The Kanvas platform is unique in its ability to spatially map gene expression and cellular function across all kingdoms of life. Its unprecedented capability to illuminate host-microbiome interactions marks a significant advancement in understanding diseases related to the microbiomes, finally unlocking the promise of microbiome-based therapies. The platform provides not only a path to breakthroughs in drug development, but also clinical diagnostics, agriculture and food safety.

Kanvas Bioscience’s spatial biology platform provides the unique ability to map host-microbiome interactions and leverage the resulting data to design live biotherapeutic products (LBPs), which can be used to create novel microbiome-based therapies that optimize the microbiome – a critical factor in human health. KAN-001, the company’s lead drug candidate, is an LBP demonstrating significant potential to improve outcomes for cancer patients who have been resistant to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). Designed with the goal of increasing the percentage of patients who respond to ICIs across all ICI-approved cancer types, KAN-003 will be a defined consortium for cancer patients, administered just before starting ICI treatment. Kanvas is collaborating with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and its Platform for Innovative Microbiome and Translational Research (PRIME-TR) to conduct additional preclinical studies for KAN-001 to optimize the drug’s formulation and prepare it for an IND filing in 2025, preparatory to recruiting the first patients for a clinical trial the same year.

“We have a remarkable opportunity to help patients by offering them an effective, novel therapeutic approach to some of the most common and debilitating conditions, starting with improving the efficacy of immunotherapy in the treatment of solid organ cancer. I’m so proud of the extraordinary progress the Kanvas team has already achieved,” said Matthew Cheng, co-founder and CEO of Kanvas Biosciences. “Because of this progress and with additional capital, Kanvas is positioned to accelerate its growth and build on its early success in illuminating host-microbiome interactions by launching a clinical pipeline of precision microbiome therapeutics.”

With a market expected to grow at a 21% CAGR to over $3 billion by 2031, LBPs are living microbes and can improve treatment outcomes for microbiome-addressable conditions, including solid organ cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic disorders. By acting in a synergistic and complementary manner to existing therapies, LBPs provide a safe method for targeting underlying disease processes, but through different pathways and with greater efficacy. Historical approaches to LBP development have generally focused on single strains of bacteria – which don’t have an appropriate ecosystem to add therapeutic value – or fecal microbiota transplants (FMTs), which are complex and consist of many bacterial strains, but are difficult to scale commercially, highly variable and cannot be optimized. Kanvas has demonstrated the ability to develop and manufacture complex microbial consortia of 148 bacterial strains, providing the benefits of a complex community with multiple mechanisms of action, which make LBPs more effective.

“Not only does Kanvas’s spatial biology platform offer much-needed discovery capabilities, it also now enables the manufacturing of complex LBPs as a therapeutic modality. KAN-001 and KAN-003 have the potential to be breakthrough, complementary therapeutics for ICI-refractory and ICI-naive cancers,” said Jason Pontin, General Partner at DCVC and chair of Kanvas’s board. “By providing the missing link between microbiome drug design rationale and therapeutic outcomes, Kanvas has the unique and exciting ability to provide a better mechanistic understanding of microbiome-addressable conditions, and ultimately improve clinical success for the next generation of LBPs.”

“I’m thrilled to support Kanvas’s mission as a board observer,” remarked Dr. Burkart, Germin8’s Chief Scientific Officer and a board-certified pathologist specializing in gastrointestinal pathology. “Their exceptional team and groundbreaking technology will revolutionize our understanding of host-microbiome interactions, driving transformative discoveries in human health and beyond. This tool isn’t just relevant for human health; it holds promise for sectors like animal health and agriculture. Understanding microbes in these areas is vital for global health and sustainability.”

The past 12 months have been a period of momentous growth for Kanvas. This fall, the company opened a new research laboratory and drug manufacturing facility in South San Francisco. Kanvas also recently expanded its leadership team: Lee Swem, formerly Federation Bio’s Chief Science Officer, joined Kanvas as Chief Development Officer, Steve Kujawa, who previously led business development at 10x Genomics, joined as Vice President of Business Development, and Kevin Cutler joined the company as Lead Scientist with expertise in AI. Swem is driving the execution of Kanvas’s LBP portfolio, with a focus on KAN-001, and Kujawa is leading partnerships for the company’s spatial biology platform and licensing of non-core LBP assets. Cutler is spearheading the curation of a state-of-the-art training database for machine learning segmentation of microbes, development of deep learning models for spectral identification of microbes, and integration of advanced AI into the company’s analytical platform.

For more information on Kanvas Biosciences or to inquire about pharmaceutical discovery partnership opportunities, visit https://www.kanvasbio.com/.

About Kanvas Biosciences
Kanvas Biosciences is a spatial biology company building the world’s first microbiome drug screening, discovery and manufacturing platform to accelerate the development of next generation live biotherapeutics. With an unparalleled ability to spatially map the microbiome and profile host gene expression, and manufacture complex consortia containing hundreds of members that can restore microbiome health, the company is uniquely positioned to develop novel therapeutics that can significantly improve the lives of all patients living with microbiome-associated diseases. Kanvas Biosciences’ technology was initially developed at Cornell University and exclusively licensed. The company’s notable investors include DCVC, Lions Capital LLC, FemHealth Ventures, Germin8, Ki Tua Fund, and Pangaea Ventures. Kanvas Biosciences is headquartered in Princeton, NJ. For more information, visit www.kanvasbio.com or follow the company on LinkedIn.