Boehringer Ingelheim has signed a pact with the Technische Universität (TU) in Dresden to research the cause of type 1 diabetes.
The German pharma firm said results from a range of planned studies may help to design new medicines and improve understanding of how diabetes drugs can be made into more personalised medicines.
Boehringer will work with the university's department of medicine and GWT, a private R&D company based within TU Dresden, in a five-year collaboration that will also look at the link between high blood sugar and complications associated with diabetes.
The research partners will focus on six projects that cover preclinical findings and investigational treatments and how they translate to clinical situations with patients.
These projects include research into the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells - the genetic cause of type 1 diabetes - for which a reason is still unknown.
Further research will look at the molecular reasons behind diabetic complications in parts of the body like eyes, kidneys, nerves and skin.
The collaboration has a similar purpose as Novo Nordisk's planned type 1 diabetes research centre in Seattle, US.
This will also take a translational approach, combining basic research and early proof-of-concept trials to ensure investigations can develop quickly from animal models into exploratory trials.
The moves follow a trend to more research into type 1 diabetes, incidents of which are growing alongside type 2 diabetes, but for less certain reasons.
It is estimated that 366m people currently live with either form of the condition worldwide, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), with 78,000 children developing type 1 diabetes every year.
Other firms to increase research efforts into the condition include Sanofi, which is also collaborating with an academic institution after signing a $3.1m alliance with the University of California.