Writing the Book on Novel, Targeted Therapies

SignalChem Lifesciences
Written by Robert Hoshowsky

Over a span of almost 20 years, SignalChem Lifesciences Corporation (SLC) has grown to become a worldwide leader in cell signalling and protein engineering. At SignalChem, the focus is on cancer and neurodegenerative disease research and the development and production of cell signalling proteins and enzymes. Through decades of innovation, and with its highly experienced leadership and scientific advisory board, this clinical-stage company continues to lead in the production of novel targeted therapies for oncology.

Headquartered in British Columbia, SignalChem’s business model has been built on four important pillars: Drug Discovery and Development; Bioreagents and Research Services; In-Vitro Diagnostic Development; and Plant Biosynthesis System.

As the company says, “A group of scientists with extraordinary expertise and experience in protein engineering and drug discovery are working together cohesively to provide the best products and services to customers around the world and to maximize the efficiency of its drug discovery efforts.”

Leaders in biotechnology research
While SignalChem Biotech was created in 2004, SignalChem Diagnostics, a subsidiary of SignalChem LifeSciences Corp., was founded in 2018. It is a Richmond B.C. biotech company focused on raw materials for in vitro diagnostics (IVD) / diagnostics research.

“The founding of SignalChem Diagnostics was driven by the increasing demand for accurate and reliable raw materials for IVD,” says Luigi De Martino, Head of Global IVD Sales & Marketing. “SignalChem Diagnostics was already well-established in the biotech industry.”

The company specialized in developing and manufacturing high-quality active enzymes, antibodies and functional proteins for research purposes and providing contract research services to clients in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors.

As a separate entity, SignalChem Diagnostics focuses exclusively on developing and producing raw materials such as proteins, enzymes, and compounds required for any kind of diagnostic research, rapid tests production, and diagnostic kits

“SignalChem Diagnostics began its operations by building on the expertise of its parent company in the areas of protein expression, purification, and characterization,” says De Martino. “The company developed a range of diagnostic tools based on these technologies, including ELISA assays, lateral flow assays, and CRISPR-based nucleic acid target detection.” [ELISA stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and CRISPR for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.]

Since its founding, SignalChem Diagnostics has expanded its product portfolio from COVID-19-related products to CRISPR Cas Enzymes involved in novel CRISPR-based molecular diagnostic tests for human, animal, and plant applications. Establishing partnerships with leading academic and research institutions also enables the company to further develop its technology platform and bring new diagnostic tests to market.

The goal of the company, says De Martino, is to be recognized as a valued partner for leading biotech and pharma institutions, developing innovative diagnostic tools that play a key role in the fight against cancer and other diseases. “The company has a clear growth path outlined for the future, expanding its product portfolio from just raw materials to IVD tests and detection methods,” he adds.

Voices of experience
With a seasoned executive leadership team, board of directors, and scientific advisory board, SignalChem Lifesciences continues to grow and includes three subsidiaries: SignalChem Biotech Inc.; SignalChem Diagnostics Corp.; and SignalChem Plantech Corp.

Established in 2004, SignalChem Biotech focuses on “the research, development and production of innovative and high-quality human recombinant cell signalling products,” according to the company. SignalChem Diagnostics is active in the development, manufacturing, sales and technical services of IVD products such as enzymes, antigens / allergens and antibodies. SignalChem Plantech remains the world leader in the development and use of plant expression systems “for production of recombinant proteins and secondary metabolites in green plants.”

With combined decades of experience in life sciences, biotech, drug discovery and development, diagnostics, cell signal transduction, cancer biology, and all areas of financial management, mergers and acquisitions, and other key areas, SignalChem continues to develop innovative oncology therapies.

The company’s Board of Directors includes Mr. Jun Yan (Chair, Board of Directors, and President), Mr. Michael Chen, MBA (Director), and Dr. Zaihui Zhang, Ph.D. (Chief Scientific Officer, Vice President, R&D). Messrs. Jun Yan and Dr. Zaihui Zhang also serve on SignalChem’s Management team, along with Mr. Harvey Quan, CMA (Chief Financial Officer), and Dan Zekzer, MD (Chief Business Officer & Corporate Strategy).

Good business
A seasoned professional with over 15 years of experience in the biotech, diagnostics devices, and life sciences sector as a sales and business manager in national and international organizations, Luigi De Martino has worked worldwide with key opinion leaders (KOLs) to develop diagnostics strategies and protocols.

This includes demonstrating the ability to build a multi-million dollar business from the ground up, successfully designing commercial and business plans, and providing strategic direction at every stage, from concept to commercialization of products and services.

“I work with International business leaders developing mergers and collaboration agreements and have a large professional network,” says De Martino, “and have an in-depth understanding of the life sciences sector and federal and provincial government organizational structures and financial processes. My interest in SignalChem stemmed from their innovative research and development of high-quality cell signalling products that have revolutionized the field of life sciences.”

As the diagnostics company’s global sales and marketing head, De Martino oversees sales and marketing efforts on a worldwide scale, ensuring SignalChem’s products reach their target audiences.

Building strong relationships with key clients and partners, he is also responsible for designing and implementing strategic plans to increase market share and revenue, and staying up-to-date with industry trends and regulatory changes that may affect the company’s operations. “My experience and expertise in sales and marketing are helping SignalChem drive growth and success in the highly competitive diagnostics raw material industry.”

Molecular biology
Along with its board of directors and management team, the senior staff at SignalChem includes Dr. Zhiwei Xie, Ph.D., senior director of molecular biology, who has over 20 years of experience in drug discovery and development.

Joining SignalChem LifeSciences Corp. in 2018 to initiate and lead its new business sector, in vitro diagnostics (IVD), he soon built a core R&D team and established a technical platform for developing and manufacturing IVD core raw materials.

“I successfully led the design and production of raw materials for various IVD tests including clinical chemistry tests, immunodiagnostics and molecular diagnostics,” he says. “Especially, I led the team to develop innovative CRISPR-based molecular diagnostics and successfully achieved one-pot fast detection of pathogens of plant and animal infectious diseases.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Xie efficiently led a campaign of developing and producing over 100 SARS-CoV-2 related products to meet urgent market demands for COVID-19 diagnostics and drug discovery and played a critical role in establishing a subsidiary company in China and building up the ISO 9001 certified manufacturing facility.

Path to leadership
Under his leadership, the SignalChem subsidiary company was selected as a leading innovative enterprise in the Suzhou high-tech industrial park, located in Suzhou, Jiangsu, China.

Like many other staff members, Dr. Xie came to SignalChem LifeSciences Corp. with considerable prior experience. Working at Xenon Pharmaceuticals Inc. as a senior research scientist from 2007 to 2018, he made critical contributions to drug development for the treatment of various conditions including anemia of inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, chronic pain, and central nervous system (CNS) disease.

His other work includes Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., where he was responsible for target identification and the mechanism of action study of the company’s lead anti-inflammatory compounds; participating in evaluating and recruiting technologies from Adprotech, a British biotech company; Kinetek Pharmaceuticals Inc., working on validating kinases as targets for developing drugs to treat diseases such as cancer and inflammation.

“I received my Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry, Chinese Academy of Science,” he says, “and received my post-doctoral training in the department of biochemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle.”

Staying at the forefront
Creating products known for high performance, quality, and purity, SignalChem remains at the forefront of developing innovative products for the life sciences industry. One of the company’s key innovations is the development of a unique line of recombinant cell signalling proteins, used by researchers worldwide for their studies on cancer, apoptosis, and autophagy, among other areas of research.

SignalChem has also developed high-performance, quality, and purity CRISPR Cas Enzymes used globally both in gene editing and molecular diagnostics settings, and developed a range of highly specific antibodies that have high affinity and selectivity for their targets, which have become critical reagents for the scientific community.

The company’s commitment to quality, innovation and customer satisfaction has led to its recognition as one of Canada’s Top 10 Contract Research Organizations (CROs). SignalChem has a proven track record of providing high-quality products and services to its customers, including its recombinant proteins, antibodies, and assay development services.

“SignalChem’s team of experienced scientists, engineers, and customer support staff work closely with clients to understand their unique needs and deliver tailored solutions that meet or exceed their expectations,” says De Martino.

“Additionally, SignalChem’s state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technologies, and rigorous quality control standards ensure that all products and services meet the highest industry standards. The recognition as one of Canada’s Top 10 CROs is a testament to SignalChem’s dedication to excellence and its commitment to advancing the field of life sciences.”

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