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Collaboration between Lund University researchers and Novo Nordisk paves the way for large-scale cell therapy against Parkinson’s disease

Malin Parmar (Photo by Kennet Ruona)
Malin Parmar (Photo: Kennet Ruona)

One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Novo Nordisk, are starting a new stem cell program for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in close collaboration with Lund University.

Over the last ten years, Professor Malin Parmar and her research team at the Biomedical Centre in Lund have conducted successful, clinically relevant, basic and translational research on Parkinson’s disease. They have developed an entirely new method to get stem cells to turn into dopamine-producing nerve cells that can be transplanted into the brains of Parkinson’s sufferers whose levels of dopamine are too low.  Novo Nordisk are currently initiating a collaboration with Malin Parmar and her colleagues Agnete Kirkeby and Anders Björklund at Lund University, in partnership with the Stockholm-based biotech company Biolamina, with the aim of developing a new stem cell based therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

Novo Nordisk already have an active stem cell program for treatment of type-1 diabetes, which is aiming to start clinical trials within the next few years. The international pharmaceutical company is now expanding its investment in stem cell-based therapies to include other serious, chronic diseases. One of these projects is based on the research conducted by Malin Parmar’s team at Lund University.

”We have developed an effective and stable process for producing precursors to dopamine-producing nerve cells from embryonic stem cells, with the aim of replacing the dopamine-producing nerve cells that have been lost in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Through animal trials, we have shown that the cells survive for a long period of time after being transplanted into the brain, and that they function as well as the brain’s own dopamine neuron. The challenge in using stem cells is ensuring that you can produce the exact type of cell that’s needed, while keeping contamination of undesired cells to a minimum. This is what we have succeeded in doing in our research.” Says Agnete Kirkeby.

”In order to develop a therapy that can benefit patients all over the world you need financial resources, expertise within global regulation issues, resources and expertise to carry out clinical trials, and an infrastructure that enables large scale development and commercialization. All of this is available within Novo Nordisk, and we are very happy to have them as a partner in driving our research through to clinical trials.” Says Malin Parmar, professor of cellular neuroscience and research team leader.

Novo Nordisk’s considerable investment in stem cells, and their decision to widen their scope beyond the field of diabetes has created new opportunities for stem cell researchers in Lund, and means that the treatment method currently in early development at Lund University is given the greatest chance possible to become available to patients all of the world.

Press release from Novo Nordisk

Press release from Biolamina

Malin Parmar, professor of cellular neuroscience at Lund University
+46 222 0620
+70 982 39 02
malin [dot] parmar [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se


  • 2012 Lund researchers develop new method for producing transplantable cells from stem cells, where the key method is based on laminins from Biolamina.
  • 2012 Lund researchers patent the discovery.
  • 2014 Lund researchers present important data that shows that the dopamine cells produced from stem cells function as well as the cells that are in our brains.
  • 2017 Licensing agreement between Biolamina and Novo Nordisk is signed. See press release from Biolamina sept. 2017
  • 2017 Lund researchers publish a GMP method for cell production
  • 2017 Novo Nordisk and Lund University start a research collaboration
  • 2018 Novo Nordisk announce their new large-scale investment in stem cells and the collaboration with the researchers at Lund University