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Novo Nordisk, Foundation to Partner on Type 1 Diabetes

Adult testing a child's blood glucose (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

JDRF, a foundation supporting research on type 1 diabetes, and the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk will partner on studies of the autoimmune process that plays a key role in type 1 diabetes. Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called insulin-dependent, immune-mediated, or juvenile-onset diabetes, although it can occur at any age. It is believed to be caused by an auto-immune reaction where the body’s defenses attack its own insulin-producing cells. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the blood stream instead of going into the cells. The body is unable to use this glucose for energy, which leads to the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.

The collaboration between JDRF and Novo Nordisk is expected to include research from academia and biotechnology companies, as well as internal research projects at Novo Nordisk. Neither the company nor JDRF indicated how research originating in academic institutions or biotech companies would be used.

Novo Nordisk plans to involve its new research and development center in Seattle that focuses on type 1 diabetes, which is scheduled to employ 20 specialists in immunotherapy. The company says the center’s goal is to use translational research methods to move early-stage discovery projects in immunotherapy from animal tests into small clinical exploratory trials. Novo Nordisk revealed plans for the research center in January 2012.

Since 1970, JDRF has awarded more than $1.6 billion to diabetes research. Earlier in June, the foundation, along with the Helmsley Charitable Trust, agreed to support the work of Medtronic Inc. in its development of advanced glucose monitoring systems that can lead to development of an artificial pancreas.

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