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Novo Nordisk to establish type 1 diabetes research centre in Seattle

Facility will work with existing inflammation centre to find “new, innovative ways” to treat type 1 diabetes

Novo Nordisk is to establish a new centre for research into type 1 diabetes in Seattle, US.

The centre is planned to open in the summer of 2012, with 20 researchers to be employed initially. It will be located on the same site as Novo's inflammation research centre in the city, with the company intending 'research synergies' between the two sites.

Research at the facility will 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.

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, executive vice president and chief science officer at Novo, claimed the new facility will help accelerate the process to find “new, innovative ways” to treat people with type 1 diabetes.

He said: “Our vision is to prevent, treat and ultimately cure diabetes.”

Type 1 diabetes, which is caused by an auto-immune reaction where the body attacks insulin-producing cells, accounts for around 10 per cent of all cases of diabetes.

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.

Currently, type 1 diabetes is fatal unless treated with multiple injections of insulin daily or continuous infusion of insulin, however, research on new treatments in diabetes has focused on type 2 diabetes due to the dramatic rise in incidents, according to Novo.

Heading research at the Seattle facility will be Dr Matthias von Herrath, a researcher in auto-immune diseases and recipient of the American Diabetes Association Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008.

He is currently director of the Center for Type 1 Diabetes Research at La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, where he will continue part-time while working with Novo.

Von Herrath is also president of both the Immunology of Diabetes Society (IDS) and the Clinical Immunology Society (CIS).

He said: “My dream has always been to see some of the treatments that my and other research teams have tested in animal models translated into better treatments for type 1 diabetes.

“As head of the research centre, I hope to pursue this dream, while also forging new public–private collaborations within this field.”

Other companies to expand their efforts in type 1 diabetes research include Sanofi.

In January, 2012, the French pharma company announced an alliance with the University of California, San Francisco to research potential new therapies for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

24th January 2012

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