UU Innovation

Collaborative diabetes project yielded great results

It started at an AIMday event and developed into a collaborative research project with great gains for all parties involved. For the diagnostics company Mercodia the collaboration with an academic research group proved a real boon.

At AIMday Diabetes in January 2012 representatives of the Uppsala-based diagnostics company Mercodia raised the question how the company could cooperate with the university in using clinical material from diabetes patients. As it turned out, Professor Peter Bergsten at the Department of Medical Cell Biology had matching needs.

Professor Bergsten and his group was doing research on the development of Type II diabetes in young obese individuals, and Mercodia’s assays for insulin and other substances involved in the production of insulin in the body were critical tools in this work. Another small company, Cebix AB, also became a partner in the project, supplying a special peptide.

Professor Peter Bergsten.

The project started in March, supported by an innovation voucher from UU Innovation. Nine months later it was successfully completed and Professor Bergsten and his coworkers are now busy preparing a scientific publication reporting the results.

Also for Mercodia the project proved very valuable.

“It’s been a wonderful journey with great energy, openness and much valuable knowledge,” says Annika Carlsson, product manager at Mercodia AB. “It was great to be able to gather our resources to address one of the most important medical problems of today, one that affects millions of people.

“We learned a lot about the mechanisms and issues of Type II Diabetes. Mercodia also gained access to clinical samples that are very valuable in our research and development work.”

Annika points out that a project like this also dispels many misconceptions that industrial and academic researchers may have of each other.

“Working in a joint project like this develops an understanding for the realities and interests of all parties involved, which is very good for our future contacts.”

Peter and his research group also visited Mercodia and described their work to all the company’s employees.

“It was very good for our staff to get to know these customers in such a direct way and to learn how they work and use our ELISA assays. In similar fashion, we got the opportunity to explain how we believe that they can make the best use of the products. Now they have become something of our ambassadors in the academic world.”

Annika says that during the project the partners have built a very good business relationship and great trust. They are now discussing various ways to proceed with their collaboration after the completion of this particular project.

“The exchange of knowledge has been extremely valuable for all involved. So naturally we wish to continue to collaborate. Mercodia has scientific contacts all around the world, but being able to work with top-class academic researchers just a few minutes away makes such interactions so much more efficient,” Annika concludes.