Somru Bioscience expanding

Brothers founded biotechnology company after their father couldn't access expensive medication and died of cancer

Ryan Ross
Published on January 10, 2014

Jon Zuccolo, principal investigator, and Paula Banks, research associate, are with Somru BioScience.

©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

What started as a personal project after his father's death has turned into a growing bioscience business for an Island man.

Mohammed Moin, vice-president of business development for Somru BioScience, moved to Prince Edward Island in 2000 to study at UPEI, but instead of leaving after graduation he established roots in the community.

Since then he founded Somru BioScience with his brother after their father died of esophageal cancer and didn't have access to expensive medication.

Moin wanted to do something about those drug costs for patients and after living in P.E.I. for five or six years he decided to start a business.

"We want to make...affordable medication. Health care should be affordable," he said.

On Friday, Moin was at the National Research Council (NRC) in Charlottetown for the announcement of more than $230,000 in funding from the provincial and federal governments for his company.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) provided $171,825 in funding to help Somru BioScience buy equipment for the development of test kits used for generic drug development.

Those kits will help monitor patients' response to generic drugs.

ACOA is also providing the company with $48,750 to hire someone for quality control and assurance to make sure it meets standard operating procedures and good laboratory practices.

The provincial government is giving Somru BioScience a $10,000 grant to buy equipment.

Moin said one of his company's plans is to develop testing kits for irritable bowel syndrome.

Those kits will provide better information so doctors don't have to rely on patients to determine if a generic drug is working or not, he said.

"It gives the tool to the physician so they can make the decision better."

Somru BioScience, which employs seven people, went into business last year and Moin said the plan was to have a product available before seeking funding.

"My goal was to have a lean startup," he said.

That product was available for the market after three or four months and the company is finishing a move to a new facility in West Royalty that's about five times as big as the one it used at the NRC.

"This funding will allow us to buy our own equipment and hire a few more people," Moin said.

Rob Moore, minister of state for ACOA, was at the announcement and said Sombru BioScience was a welcome addition to the industry in Atlantic Canada.

"The bioscience cluster on P.E.I. continues to gain more and more national and international recognition," he said.