Stem cell research

Stem cells ethics

Stem cell research raises hopes for improved treatment

Stem cell research raises hopes for future treatment of people with serious chronic diseases caused by the loss of specific cells. The process will involve transplanting cells that have been specialised to perform a specific function (this is known as “cell differentiation”).

Stem cells ethics

"Human stem cell research with the potential of cell transplantation is presently the most promising approach to achieving this goal for type 1 diabetes."

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer

Ethical issues


Research using stem cells that come from fertilised human eggs (known as “human embryonic stem cells”) has started an important ethical debate. There are large differences between countries in relation to the law and control of research on human embryonic stem cells.


Novo Nordisk recognises and respects that research areas involving ethical issues need to be thoroughly discussed in society. We would like to continue to be part of an open discussion about understanding the ethical and legal issues in the use of human embryonic stem cells.


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.