Novo Nordisk, together with the majority of scientists within the field of stem cell research, believes it is essential to conduct research with pluripotent stem cells. This is because it is crucial to gain basic knowledge about how cells grow and develop to allow us to confirm the possibility of using stem cells in cell replacement therapies.
In 2001 Novo Nordisk formed a focus group to explore the ethical issues of stem cell research. The focus group looked at the benefits to patients and society and balanced this against the possible threat of overlooking our values and ethical codes. Based on the group’s findings we decided to support stem cell research. We developed Novo Nordisk's position, held employee meetings and press conferences, and took part in public hearings and debates. In 2003 the Danish Parliament passed a law which allows the use of human embryonic stem cells in the research and development of new medicines and cures for patients. Novo Nordisk is keeping the focus on the ethical issues related to stem cell research and continues to follow the ethical debate around the world. Novo Nordisk urges all countries to establish legislation that will ensure that this field is adequately regulated and controlled.
1 Vision to cure diabetes
Novo Nordisk has a vision to find a cure for diabetes, and human stem cell research with the potential for cell transplantation, is currently the most promising approach to achieve this goal.
2 Investigation of use of stem cells
Novo Nordisk is investigating the use of stem cells to treat other serious chronic diseases and the use of stem cells as a tool to increase disease understanding and accelerate the drug discovery process.
3 Human pluripotent stem cells
Novo Nordisk has extended its research on mouse pluripotent stem cells to include human pluripotent stem cells, in order to move forward in our efforts to direct human stem cells to mature into insulin-producing beta cells which can be further developed for transplantation to patients.
4 Use of pluripotent stem cells
Novo Nordisk is using pluripotent stem cells as it has not yet been demonstrated that the same scientific results can be obtained by the use of multipotent adult/tissue-specific stem cells when it comes to expansion potential and developmental capacity.
5 Human embryonic stem cells
Novo Nordisk only works with human embryonic stem cells derived from surplus embryos from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment that are donated with freely given informed consent. Such embryos are otherwise destined by law to be discarded. Novo Nordisk does not support human egg donation for the creation of human embryos solely for research purposes.
6 Cloning of human beings
Novo Nordisk finds cloning of human beings (reproductive cloning) unethical and does not engage in any activity in this area.
7 Patenting of stem cells
Novo Nordisk supports the position that human embryonic stem cells, as such, cannot be patented. However, the research-based protocols used to develop stem cells into therapeutic cells, as well as the mature cells and tissues developed by these specific protocols, should be patentable.
8 Protection of human embryo
Novo Nordisk supports a legislative framework around the use of human embryonic stem cells that adequately protects the human embryo and at the same time ensures that the knowledge obtained can be used to help patients with serious chronic diseases such as diabetes.
9 Stem cell therapies
Novo Nordisk supports stem cell therapies that are only made available after having been proven to be safe and efficacious in preclinical and controlled clinical trials.
For more information, please see our position on human biosamples
If you have questions, or want to know more about stem cell research, please refer to our comprehensive collection of questions and answers.