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California stem cell site for Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk has announced the establishment of a manufacturing site in Fremont, California, to develop and produce stem cell-based therapies. The announcement follows the signing of a long-term lease on a facility. The site will support the company’s increased commitment to develop stem-cell based therapies within Type 1 diabetes (and other serious chronic diseases). Due to be operational in 2019, the facility will supply of stem cell-based therapies for Novo Nordisk’s clinical trial programmes.

Jacob Sten Petersen, corporate vice president and head of Stem Cell Research & Development (R&D), Novo Nordisk, says: “Our ambition is to develop stem cell-based therapies for a range of serious chronic diseases where we see significant unmet medical need. The reliable, large-scale supply of therapies is a vital component in our efforts, so I am delighted that we have established this facility that further demonstrates our strong commitment to this field.”

In addition to the lease agreement, Novo Nordisk has secured a two-year non-exclusive licence on Asterias’ intellectual property relating to stem cell manufacturing technology. To facilitate collaboration between the two parties and enable Asterias to progress its own clinical programmes, Novo Nordisk will sublease laboratory, manufacturing and office space within the facility back to Asterias until the end of 2021.

Stem cell-based therapy is emerging as a treatment option for a number of serious chronic diseases. It has the potential to provide novel treatments for diseases with high unmet medical needs where no or inadequate therapy exists. Pluripotent stem cells have an unlimited capacity for self-renewal and the potential to be differentiated into any specialised cell type in the body. The Novo Nordisk stem cell technology platform is based on human embryonic stem cells (hESC) that can be used for generation of cell products for a wide range of therapeutic indications.

Novo Nordisk’s R&D in this field is anchored in its recently established Stem Cell Transformational Research Unit, based in Måløv, Denmark. The unit oversees multiple partnership projects pursuing stem cell-based treatments for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, chronic heart failure and dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The new production facility will directly support these projects, enabling the future expansion of Novo Nordisk’s stem cell research portfolio into the clinic.

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