Novo Nordisk Foundation’s new €127m cell therapy facility targets chronic disease

Denmark’s Novo Nordisk Foundation has committed up to €127 million to establish a cutting-edge facility dedicated to advancing cell therapies for human testing. The new facility, called the Novo Nordisk Foundation Cellerator, aims to translate breakthroughs in cell therapy research into practical treatments for various diseases, including chronic heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease, type 1 diabetes and multiple forms of cancer.

“Cell therapies have the potential to take us from treating or managing the symptoms of chronic diseases to treating the disease itself, or even curing it with a one-off procedure,” said Thomas H R Carlsen, CEO of the Cellerator. “We’ve seen major advances in the laboratory in recent years, but many promising cell therapy candidates face difficulties reaching clinical trials, partly because we can’t currently develop cell therapy products in large, consistent quantities here in Denmark. I’m thrilled to be heading an initiative that will change this and provide hope to people living with chronic diseases.”

The primary focus of the Cellerator will be on further developing cell therapies that have already demonstrated success in animal testing and ensuring their consistent and scalable production for early-stage clinical trials. The foundation said the state-of-the-art facility will accommodate various cell therapy types, including those derived from embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells and adult stem cells.

“We expect this facility to become the critical link here in Denmark that enables ground-breaking stem cell discoveries to be taken all the way to proof-of-concept in human chronic disease trials,” said Professor Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, CEO of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. “Partnering with academic, clinical and biotech scientists in the field is key to succeeding with future curative therapies.”

The Cellerator will be situated at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Lyngby and will be the first large-scale production site of its kind in Denmark, offering a comprehensive range of services, spanning process development, manufacturing, product release and regulatory support.

“The location of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Cellerator at DTU allows for significant synergies with our research, education and innovation in health tech and biotechnology, which is happening in close collaboration with start-ups and companies,” said Anders Bjarklev, President of DTU Bjarklev. “The Cellerator will provide our researchers and students with a unique opportunity to translate cell technologies into cell therapy treatments.”

Construction of the Cellerator is projected to commence in the summer of 2024, with the facility slated for operational readiness in 2027.

Photograph: Vibeke Hempler/DTU