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Victoria’s Brock Schuman has "so many chickens to count"

Victoria’s Brock Schuman has "so many chickens to count"

Technology Sector Life Sciences/Bio Tech Technology Services

While Brock Schuman may have "so many chickens to count" on his to-do list, his passion for biotech entrepreneurship has already hatched

When he was a postdoc student at the University of Toronto, Brock Schuman designed an inhibitory RNA that worked really well in animal models. The design could never see clinical use, though, Schuman admits. “Excluding vaccines, RNA makes terrible drugs,” he tells Victoria Tech Journal. So, Schuman switched from designing RNA to targeting RNA. He saw a need for a modern way to make bespoke, small molecules that could do just that. The idea became the foundation of Victoria-based biotech company Azor Biotek

Azor develops therapeutics for the safe and curative treatment of neurodegenerative and pulmonary diseases. Schuman shares that his drive is strong despite less-than-unique origins. “My passion is probably similar to a lot of entrepreneurs or really ambitious scientists,” he says. “I see a big problem that too many others have been approaching all wrong for too long, and think I'm in a good position to solve it.”

He’s also in a good city to solve it. Thanks to burgeoning biotech businesses like Axolotl and VoxCell, Victoria’s space is currently thriving, and is “surprisingly diverse and robust”, according to Schuman. He adds that the industry is helped by the Biomedical Engineering program at UVic, which is filled with ambitious people. He also sees a natural fit with the Axolotl and VoxCells of the world er… city: “We can make therapeutics, they can evaluate them in human tissue to get closer to the clinic.”

But, for this year at least, Schuman has "so many chickens to count" on his to-do list. He tells Victoria Tech Journal that next up in 2023 is getting the pilot line of therapeutics into animal models. He also hopes to raise a seed funding round to grow the team and explore additional RNA targets.

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