Novo Nordisk has officially opened a new R&D facility in Seattle, which will "explore innovative approaches to treat and prevent type 1 diabetes".

The Danish drugmaker says that the "unique concept" behind the new centre is to pursue a translational research approach "characterised by combining basic research and early proof-of-concept trials under one umbrella". This strategy "provides the necessary scientific foundation to move early-stage discovery projects rapidly from animal models into small clinical exploratory trials in type 1 diabetes", it added.

Matthias von Herrath, head of the new centre which will create 20 new jobs, will provide opportunities "to accelerate our researchers’ best ideas and make real progress in bringing treatment advances". He added that "we are driven by the company’s mandate to find a cure for type 1 diabetes – something that is unique for the pharmaceutical industry today.”

The facility, which will be fully operational this summer, is located on the same premises as Novo's inflammation research centre.

Pact with JRDF

The opening coincided with the announcement that Novo has linked up with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to collaborate on disease-modifying immunotherapies for type 1 diabetes.

The pact with JDRF, the world's leading charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research, will focus on research originating from academia, biotechnology companies and from internal research projects at Novo. It will be run out of the Seattle centre.

Richard Insel, JDRF’s chief scientific officer, said the charity is "deeply committed to developing immunotherapies and especially auto antigen-specific immunotherapies for prevention and cure of type 1 diabetes". He added that the collaboration with Novo "affords an exciting opportunity to accelerate the timeframe when these therapies may prove to make an impact".