Novocell, Inc., a San Diego biotechnology company that earlier this year successfully converted human embryonic stem cells into insulin-making pancreatic cells that could stop diabetes, today announced a two-year agreement to share the expertise with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The two-year agreement calls for Pfizer to pay an unspecified amount to Novocell for the opportunity to use the stem cell technology to develop a drug that would cause a diabetic’s pancreas to replace cells that should produce insulin but don’t because they have been killed by a faulty immune system. Such a drug could relieve patients of the need to give themselves as many as four injections of insulin daily.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with Pfizer, an industry leading pharmaceutical company with a strategic vision about regenerative medicine,” said Novocell CEO Alan J. Lewis in a news release.

As we reported in July, Novocell is one of a few of local companies and institutions doing research based on the use of stem cells. But it has set itself apart through its breakthroughs with the controversial embryonic stem cells.

DAVID WASHBURN

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