R&D core capabilities

The sharp focus on diabetes and other serious chronic diseases is a key element of Novo Nordisk’s business strategy, as is our strong focus on the constant development of our R&D core capabilities: deep disease understanding, engineering, formulating, developing and delivering protein-based treatments. This reflects the way Novo Nordisk has undertaken pioneering research and development for more than 90 years.

We are working for a future where people affected by diabetes, haemophilia, growth disorders and obesity can live with as few limitations as possible.



It all starts with an idea! Scientists engineer hundreds of different protein molecules in each project.

By protein backbone engineering and state-of-the-art chemical and enzymatic modifications, molecules are optimised to meet a prespecified target product profile. The molecules are then screened to identify a subset from which a lead molecule can be further optimised for non-clinical and subsequent clinical development.

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Protein formulation is a key factor in optimising the interface between a complex engineered protein molecule and its delivery system.

During formulation, the active molecule is mixed with excipients into a safe and convenient drug product, which is stable and suitable for manufacturing. Novo Nordisk continuously refines its protein formulation technologies to further improve subcutaneous and oral protein delivery systems and formulation of combination products. 

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Having identified and designed a drug candidate that meets the early target product profile, safety and efficacy is assessed in a variety of animal models before testing in human subjects may be initiated.

Clinical trials are carefully designed in close dialogue with health authorities in order to document kinetics, safety, and later efficacy, of our molecules. Novo Nordisk conducts clinical trials in more than 50 countries and the development process typically takes about 8 years. 

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In parallel with the drug development process we design delivery systems for our treatments to ensure correct dosing and convenience for the patient.

Our devices are developed in close collaboration between patients and the scientific discovery teams at Novo Nordisk. This ensures that the developed devices are safe and easy for the patients to use while being compatible with the drug products taken into development.

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