Novo Nordisk sees clinical studies of stem cell-based therapies for type 1 diabetes in "next few years"

Novo Nordisk on Wednesday said that the first clinical studies of stem cell-based therapies for the treatment of type 1 diabetes could begin within the next few years, having achieved a key milestone as part of its collaboration with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, the company's chief science officer, commented "finding a cure for diabetes is part of Novo Nordisk's vision and recent progress in our stem cell research and the access to robust and high-quality cell lines raises hopes for people with type 1 diabetes."

According to Novo Nordisk, it has achieved preclinical proof-of-concept following two decades of research into the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into insulin-producing beta cells. The also drugmaker noted that "significant progress" has been made in the development of an encapsulation device to protect transplanted beta cells against immune system attack through its collaboration with Cornell University.

Under the agreement with UCSF, Novo Nordisk received an exclusive licence to technology permitting the generation of good manufacturing practice-compliant human embryonic stem cell lines, in addition to rights to develop the cell lines into regenerative therapeutics. Thomsen further stated that the collaboration will support its efforts to develop stem cell-based therapies for other chronic conditions.

As such, Novo Nordisk will boost its commitment to stem cell-based therapies, including expanding into other chronic diseases such as Parkinson's disease, chronic heart failure and age-related macular degeneration. The company separately announced Wednesday a partnership to develop novel stem cell-based therapies based on BioLamina's human recombinant laminin cell culture matrices, dubbed Biolaminins.

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