The big risks and big expectations of a small drug company in small-town New Brunswick.
By Anita Lahey
Jack Stewart, a biochemist, jokes that normally he would not be caught dead cavorting with a biologist. But 12 years ago, an Australian biologist visiting his labs at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, beckoned him to look under a microscope. As Stewart peered at the tooth of a northern, short-tailed shrew, the Australian said, “See that little groove? That’s where the venom is delivered.” “No, no,” Stewart protested. “This is just a local shrew!” But his colleague knew his stuff: the diminutive shrew, which might be mistaken for a mouse and is the most common small mammal in eastern North America, possesses a secret weapon. As it bites its prey (often an insect), a poison in its saliva causes profound paralysis. When Stewart asked how it worked, the biologist replied, “You’re the biochemist, you figure it out.”
That unexpected encounter diverted Stewart from a 25-year research focus on biochemical adaptations and ultimately led to the creation, in the unlikely locale of small-town New Brunswick, of Soricimed Biopharma Inc., one of the tiny start-ups that are increasingly taking on the high-stakes, early stages of drug research and development...
Want to share your thoughts on this article? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org