Novo Nordisk bets another $130M on diabetes R&D with new Danish hub

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A rendering of Novo Nordisk's planned Diabetes Research House--Courtesy of Novo Nordisk (click to enlarge)

Novo Nordisk ($NVO) has broken ground on a new R&D shop in its native Denmark, plotting a $130 million project that will expand its wide footprint in diabetes research.

The new operation, dubbed Diabetes Research House, will employ about 350 people when it opens its doors in early 2016, the company said. The 54,000-square-foot operation will feature two lab wings separated by office space and boast an auditorium with seating for 450, all sitting within Novo's existing R&D campus in Måløv.

"The new lab facility will provide an environment for cutting-edge diabetes research within biotechnology and protein chemistry," Chief Science Officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen said in a statement. "Here our researchers will be working closely together with leading scientists in Denmark and abroad on the discovery and development of new medicines for the treatment of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes."

The Måløv site is already home to most of Novo's global R&D, with about 2,300 employees working on diabetes, hemophilia and other therapeutic areas.

The drugmaker's latest expansion follows a sweeping entry into the obesity field, marked by the company's plan to set up a dedicated R&D operation in Seattle that will focus on weight-loss treatments. The obesity branch will initially employ about 10 people, Novo said, eventually growing to around 60 workers once fully operational in 2016. Novo is expecting to win FDA approval this month for the obesity-treating Saxenda, a higher dose of its blockbuster diabetes treatment Victoza (liraglutide), building a new pillar of its business from there.

But diabetes remains the driving force for Novo and its $2 billion R&D operation. Beyond Victoza, which brought in more than $2 billion last year, the drugmaker is angling for FDA approval for Tresiba, its long-delayed new insulin, and angling toward a submission for the promising combination treatment Xultophy. In Phase III, Novo has a weekly GLP-1 treatment called semaglutide and a faster-acting formulation of the top-selling insulin NovoLog.

- read the statement