Technology inspired by one life set to save many more

Mohammed Moin was in school when he lost his father suddenly to cancer. Unable to access medical treatment in Bangladesh where they lived, Moin’s father died within a few months of the diagnosis.

When Moin emigrated to attend university in Prince Edward Island, he already had the seed of an idea: to work with his elder brother Rafiq Islam, a molecular biologist in the U.S., to make life-saving drugs more affordable.

Moin and Rafiq co-founded Somru BioScience Inc. in Charlottetown in 2012. The company creates innovative technology to speed up the development of drugs, so they can be commercialized faster and at lower prices.

“It takes 10 years to bring a drug to market,” explains Moin, CEO of Somru BioScience. “If we save two or three years, we also help companies save money. This lowers the price of the drug.”

With 70 clients in 23 countries, Somru BioScience aims to make a difference to patients across the world. Around 80% of the company’s exports initially went to the U.S., but it has since diversified with half of the company’s exports now going to Asia and Europe.

“Drug development is a global industry. We knew we needed to go international right away,” says Moin.

One of its most notable deals is with Radiant Pharmaceuticals — a top 10 pharma company in Bangladesh — which uses Somru BioScience’s kits for early detection of cancer and diabetes. The partnership is expected to generate $50 million in Canadian sales over the next five years.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) assisted with the deal by connecting Moin with key contacts and funding available via CanExport, a Global Affairs Canada program that helps Canadian businesses develop new export opportunities.

“It opened up a lot of channels and made things so much easier,” says Moin. “Without that support, we wouldn’t have had this success.”

Snapshot: Somru BioSciences Inc.

Founded: 2012
Industry: Life sciences
Location: Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Markets: 20 international markets across Northern America, Asia and Europe
Employees: 17

P.E.I.-based trade commissioner Butch Postma continues to support Somru Bioscience. “They’re reaching out to us to explore more business and use our core strengths,” he says.

Postma is optimistic about P.E.I.’s life sciences cluster too: “We have an innovative environment and the word is getting out.”

This certainly seems true for Somru BioScience, which is constantly innovating and growing. The business expects to create 100 new jobs and quadruple its 5,000-square-foot facility by 2022.

“We’re always coming up with new tools. The potential to provide affordable drugs is exactly what drives us,” Moin says.

Ultimately, it’s the memory of their father — and the chance to improve healthcare for people like him — that drives the two brothers. "The name Somru is my dad’s nickname,” Moin explains. “Our company name is a reminder of why we do what we do.”

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