Projects with Industry

SRP Diabetes researchers have a long tradition of collaboration with the industry and where a few recent examples is given here. Some of the researchers are entrepreneurs themselves and have started their own companies.

SRP Diabetes-AstraZeneca Science for Life Lab project

”Genomic and metabolomic fingerprint of muscle insulin resistance and the adaptive response to exercise in diabetic patients”.

Short description of the project: The aim is to map the epigenome and transcriptome (including noncoding RNA such as miRNA), as well as the metabolome in skeletal muscle and peripheral blood lymphocytes/plasma from type 2 diabetic (T2D) patients and healthy subjects. The project will test the hypothesis that metabolic disease-relevant changes in the epigenome influence insulin sensitivity and that modifications in the epigenome influence the adaptive response to acute exercise training. To this end the largest cohort to date subjected to the above interventions and global molecular analyses will be formed.

This collaborative research project between AstraZeneca (AZ) and SRP Diabetes in the AZ-SciLifeLab joint research program was active 2014-2019. The project was partly funded via a novel initiative established by AZ to support and develop front-line translational research utilizing resources within KI and SciLifeLab. The project was selected in stiff competition, where only 10 of 120 applications were successful ( (in Swedish).

The collaboration included 8 academic PIs with complementary expertise, located at 4 different universities – Karolinska Insitutet (KI), Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Umeå University (UmU) and Swedish Agricultural University (SLU) and several researchers at AZ, to accomplish the goals of the project. The work was divided into different work packages (WPs). Three WPs involved the different clinical interventions and subsequent collection of human biopsies and are located at Karolinska University Hospital (KUH) Solna, KUH Huddinge and Umeå University Hospital. There was a specific WP for global omics analyses, performed at both the SciLifeLab Stockholm and Umeå nodes, as well as at AZ. One WP was organized for systems biology analyses and bioinformatics, where SciLifeLab Stockholm and AZ were responsible. Finally, a WP on validation efforts using animal and cell models was located at KI.

SRP Diabetes researchers involved:

Lead-PI Juleen Zierath, Co-PIs Anna Krook (validation), Erik Näslund (clinical), Mikael Rydén (clinical), Tommy Olsson (clinical), Karin Dahlman-Wright (omics),

KTH/SciLifeLab: Co-PI Lukas Käll (systems biology)

Swedish Agricultural University (SLU): Thomas Moritz, (metabolomics)

Karolinska University Hospital Solna: Kenneth Caidahl (clinical)

AstraZeneca: Stanko Skrtic (omics, bioinformatics)


Start-up companies founded by SRP Diabetes PIs

  • Betagenon AB, a biotech co-founded by Dr. Edlund that develops therapies for the treatment of obesity-related disorders including type 2 diabetes. The company has started a phase I clinical trial for a novel drug to improve the metabolic status and vascular function in obese and type 2 diabetic subjects.
  • BioCrine AB, a biotech co-founded by Dr. Berggren that focuses on the molecular mechanisms of insulin secretion, insulin resistance, and pancreatic beta cell function.
  • Hepapredict, a biotech co-founded by Dr. Lauschke has developed physiological hepatic in vitro systems for toxicity assessments, metabolite identifications, drug target validation and disease models.


First-in-human renal cell implantation

In a collaborative project between the Dept. of Transplantation (Torbjörn Lundgren, PI-SRP), Dept. of Renal medicine (Peter Stenvinkel, PI-SRP), Vecura (Pontus Blomberg) and the US biotech company Tengion a first-in-human study on renal cell implantation have been conducted between Aug-Dec 2013 at Karolinska University hospital Huddinge. Five overweight type-2 diabetic patients with chronic kidney disease stage 4 have undergone standardized renal biopsy from which renal cells have been selected, cultured and after 8-12 weeks injected back (about 800 million cells) in the cortex of same kidney via a laparoscopic technique. Although this is primarily a safety study the patients will be followed with regard to effects on GFR (iohexol clearance), tubular functions, blood pressure, split kidney function (scintigraphy) and kidney volume (MRI).


Novo Nordisk Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme at Karolinska Institutet

Based at Karolinska Institutet, Fellows will undertake cutting edge research projects, mentored by front-line researchers in the field of diabetes and metabolism. In addition, it is anticipated that during the course of the fellowships, fellows will have the opportunity to spend approximately 3 months in the research laboratories at Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen. Thus, Fellows will gain insight into research conducted in both academia and industry. In order to increase coherence around the Fellowship programme, a number of events will be held throughout the year such as high profile lectures, symposia, etc. which the fellows will attend, both at Karolinska Institutet and at Novo Nordisk in Copenhagen. The programme was initiated in 2015 and continues until 2024. See separate website for more information.


Stefan Nobel