- Novo Nordisk, aiming to expand its research reach, has established a new stem cell therapy manufacturing site, announcing this week the licensing of a plant in Fremont, California previously operated by Asteria Biotherapeutics.
- Along with the facility, the Danish drugmaker also secured two-year, non-exclusive rights to Asterias' stem cell manufacturing intellectual property.
- Novo believes the site, which should be operational by next year, will boost its ability to support clinical trials of experimental stem cell therapies.
Stem cell research is currently a focus for Novo, particularly as it faces headwinds in its mainstay diabetes and insulin markets.
Its work in the space is led from an also recently established unit in Måløv, Denmark, and is focused on developing stem-cell based treatments for chronic conditions like Parkinson's disease and dry age-related macular degeneration as well as diabetes.
The California facility will support expansion of this research into the clinic, Novo said.
"The reliable, large-scale supply of therapies is a vital component in our efforts," said Jacob Sten Petersen, Novo's head of stem cell research and development, in a statement.
In September this year, Novo announced plans to restructure its R&D organization, in order to "accelerate the expansion and diversification of its pipeline across serious chronic diseases."
The stem cell unit will be one of four transformational research units. However, the restructuring has also resulted in approximately 400 layoffs involving R&D roles in Denmark and China. Another 250 more were announced last month as well.
The move into stem cells and new R&D frontiers doesn't mean a turn away from insulin research, though. A deal made in August to acquire U.K. company Ziylo, a Bristol University spinout, will give Novo access to a technology platform that creates synthetic glucose-binding molecules. The company believes that these could lead to next-generation insulins.