Created in collaboration with T brand studio.
Diabetes is on the rise, especially among the young. The number of people under 20 diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) rose 21 percent between 2001 and 2009. Experts predict there will be a 144 percent increase in cases by 2050.
Those with T1D cannot produce their own insulin with which to balance blood-sugar levels. For children, regular insulin monitoring can be particularly challenging. The entrepreneur Anders Essen-Möller discovered this hard truth when his daughter was diagnosed in 1993.
Source: “Prevalence of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Among Children and Adolescents From 2001 to 2009,” National Center for Biotechnology Information; “Projections of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Burden in the U.S. Population Aged <20 Years Through 2050,” National Center for Biotechnology Information
Essen-Möller has been hunting for a T1D cure ever since, and founded Diamyd Medical in 1996 after discovering promising research around the enzyme GAD.
GAD, found in insulin-producing beta cells, helps them function. In some people, the immune system mistakenly attacks GAD, eventually destroying the body’s ability to make insulin.
Diamyd Medical is developing a vaccine that teaches the immune system that GAD and insulin-producing cells are nonthreatening. By safely and specifically preserving the insulin-producing cells, the vaccine will make it significantly easier to live with T1D, which is an important step towards a cure.
The vaccine was approaching Phase 3 clinical trials — the final stage before regulatory approval — when the pandemic hit.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers directed resources toward the urgent development of Covid vaccines. Diamyd Medical faced a choice: Should it try to find a new manufacturing plant or build a dedicated one?
“We realized, as a small company, we might be deprioritized... We needed to take control,” says Ulf Hannelius, C.E.O. of Diamyd Medical.
Diamyd Medical ultimately decided to bring its manufacturing in-house using Cytiva’s biomanufacturing platform, FlexFactory™.
FlexFactory™ is a paramount investment for Diamyd Medical to bring its vaccine to market. In making this long-term commitment, Hannelius appreciates Cytiva’s benefits, both technical and personal. “With Cytiva, you get all these other things on top — like the people you meet and how easy it is to collaborate,” he says.