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DanStem embarks on a strategic partnership with Helmholtz Zentrum München

Posted by , on 23 May 2018

Translational stem cell research for type 1 diabetes therapy is in prime focus with a new strategic alliance between The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Biology (DanStem) and Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU). Through the establishment of a strong R&D platform for manufacturing of human pluripotent stem cell-derived pancreatic islet cells for future stem cell-based cell therapy in type 1 diabetes, the cooperation offers a unique opportunity for advancement of translational stem cell diabetes research and therapy.

Diabetes is one of the primary worldwide health challenges. Patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) suffer from a destruction of insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. There is currently no cure for the disease; however, cell therapy in the form of pancreatic islet transplantation can prevent uncontrolled fluctuations of blood sugar levels. The ability of human pluripotent stem cells to self-renew and differentiate into pancreatic islet cells offers a unique, exogenous scalable source of islet cells for such cell therapy in T1D. Human pluripotent stem cell-derived insulin-producing beta cells have yet to be transplanted into patients, and the new collaboration between UCPH and HMGU provides the essential steps to the first clinical trial.

A platform for translational research
The key element of the new alliance is a platform for translational research associated with the manufacture of cells, in a ‘Good Manufacturing Practice’ (GMP)-dedicated facility. This platform will provide scalable GMP-grade cell production, regulatory expertise, and the testing of stem cell-derived insulin-producing cells, thereby establishing an optimal, complementary arrangement for translational research and accelerating the planning of the first-in-man clinical trial using human pluripotent stem cell-derived insulin-producing beta cells.

“We believe that we are well on track with our efforts to develop a stem cell-based replacement therapy and that our latest breakthroughs will pave the way for initial clinical trials. It is all the more important for us to exchange ideas with other top diabetes researchers, and we are therefore delighted to be connected with Helmholtz Zentrum München – a beacon of excellence in diabetes research,” says Professor and Executive Director of DanStem Henrik Semb.

At DanStem, Professor Semb leads a research group focused on the translation of basic research discoveries into new human pluripotent stem cell-based treatment of T1D. With the strategic partnership, he will also drive the Institute of Translational Diabetes Research at Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health.

Partnership for the benefit of patients
Strategic alliances are indispensable in science, especially to bring together complementary expertise and capabilities for success in translational research. For DanStem and SUND the strategic alliance with HMGU is an important part of becoming a global leader in both basic and translational stem cell research. The partnership advances the development of treatment options for T1D, moving toward a more sustainable future in cell replacement therapy.

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