AstraZeneca has sealed a five-year research pact with the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) to adapt a technique that converts stem cells into human beta cells from for use in the research and development of new diabetes treatments.

The alliance strives to better understand how the function of beta cells declines in diabetes, and research findings will be made available to the broader scientific community through peer-reviewed publications, the firm said.

Financial specifics were not revealed, but AZ said it will fund a team of investigators at HSCI and establish an in-house team in Mölndal, Sweden, dedicated to the collaboration. 

Researchers will investigate the biology behind the loss of human beta cell function and mass in diabetes, and screen compounds against the cells produced to search for potential new medicines that could restore beta cell activity in diabetic patients.