Stem cell ethics

Stem cell research raises hopes for improved treatment

Stem cell research has raised hopes for future treatment with cell transplantation therapy. This treatment could be offered to people with many different serious chronic diseases which are caused by the degeneration of cells, such as in the case of diabetes and Parkinson’s Disease.

Finding a cure for diabetes is part of Novo Nordisk's vision. 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 Schience Officer

Novo Nordisk has been involved in stem cell research studying mice since the beginning of the century. Our scientists aim to find a cure for diabetes and doing so we have extended our research to include human embryonic stem cells. It will allow us to position Novo Nordisk in the forefront of future cell-therapy of diabetes.

Ethical concerns

Research in human embryonic stem cells has evoked an important ethical debate because the embryos from which the stem cells are derived hold the potential for a human life. Furthermore, large differences exist between countries with regards to the legislation and control of research on human embryonic stem cells.

Novo Nordisk acknowledges and respects that new research areas involving ethical dilemmas need to be thoroughly discussed in society. We would like to contribute to an open dialogue and an ethical and political clarification regarding the use of human embryonic stem cells.

In 2001 Novo Nordisk established a focus group to uncover the ethical dilemmas of stem cell research. Based on the group’s findings, we made our decisions weighing the benefits to patients and society along with threats to our values and fundamental ethical principles. We developed Novo Nordisk's position, held employee meetings and press conferences, and participated 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 pharmaceuticals and cures for patients.