Investors looking for a pharma company may want to keep an eye on Novo Nordisk (Novo Nordisk Stock Quote, Chart, News NYSE:NVO), the Danish pharmaceutical giant which has done well in the diabetes category, according to portfolio manager Paul MacDonald. \u201cNovo Nordisk is a large cap pharmaceutical company really focused in about 85 to 90 per cent of their business in diabetes-related products,\u201d says MacDonald, chief investment officer at Harvest Portfolios, who spoke on BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday. \u201cWe don\u2019t own Novo but we have owned it in the past in some of our other funds that don\u2019t have options, and the reason why we don\u2019t own it is its option liquidity tends to be relatively low in the US market. They do have some competitive advantages in Ozempic, their latest diabetes drug,\u201d MacDonald said. The market will be watching Novo in its upcoming Phase Three trial of its semaglutide, the active ingredient in Novo\u2019s Ozempic, now for obesity. Expected to commence in 2021, Novo could have a blockbuster on its hands. After launching Ozempic in 2018 as a Type 2 diabetes drug, Novo has pushed semaglutide over to the cardiovascular category, winning FDA approval earlier this year for its use to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with Type 2 diabetes. The rise in its semaglutide GLP-1 drug platform has helped push revenue higher for Novo, which saw sales grow by eight per cent over the first half of 2020 for obesity care, while overall semaglutide sales grew by 30-per-cent rise. \u201cDespite COVID-19, we are satisfied by the performance in the first half of 2020 and by the progress made on our strategic aspirations,\u201d said president and CEO Lars Fruergaard J\u00f8rgensen, in an August 6 press release. \u201cWe saw a strong uptake of our GLP-1 portfolio and we continue to increase our diabetes value market share. Within R&D, the obesity clinical trial results are very encouraging. As COVID-19 continues to severely impact societies around the world, our priorities continue to be to safeguard our employees, continue supply of our life-saving medicines and help societies around the world to fight the pandemic.\u201d MacDonald said Phase Three trials by Novo and also Eli Lilly in their respective cardiovascular drugs will be pivotal. \u201cWe own Eli Lilly which is a direct competitor to Novo. They both have Phase Three trials ongoing right now that we\u2019re watching quite closely with Trulicity and Ozempic and whether or not the higher dosage in Trulicity actually has a similar safety profile, which would actually give it a bit of a competitive advantage,\u201d MacDonald said. \u201cBut Novo is one of the leaders in the diabetes market and \u2026 I think if you\u2019re not involved in the options market like we are Novo is a good position to have,\u201d he said. Novo\u2019s first half earnings report featured EPS of $0.67 per share, beating Zack\u2019s consensus average of $0.64 per share, while overall revenue of $4.43 billion came in a little under the consensus $4.49 billion. So far in 2020, Novo\u2019s share price is up 23 per cent. Diabetes is a complex puzzle and new advances seem few and far between. But one researcher thinks an \u2018invisible\u2019 cell transplant might be able to treat diabetes. Writing in the website "The Conversation" Katrina Wesencraft a PhD Candidate at the University of Strathclyde outlined the procedure. Over 450 million people have diabetes, but less than 10% of these people have the kind known as type 1," Wesencraft said. "In type 1 diabetes, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas stop working. Scientists don\u2019t know exactly how this happens, but the immune system seems to attack these cells by accident. I work with researchers and surgeons at the universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh who are replacing these faulty cells for a small group of people with severe type 1 diabetes. In a healthy person, around 1% of the pancreas cells produce insulin. Scientists are able to extract these insulin-producing cells from a donor pancreas and surgeons transplant them into a diabetic patient. But Wesencraft concedes there are very significant obstacles to overcome with regards to the treatment. "A successful transplant would mean people with type 1 diabetes can start making their own insulin again. It sounds simple, but it doesn\u2019t always work," she said. "Major obstacles are stopping this treatment from being more widely available. As with transplanted organs, cells also face rejection. Cell transplant recipients have to take a cocktail of antirejection drugs. While these drugs make the immune system less likely to detect the transplanted cells, they also have serious side-effects. Even successful cell transplants eventually fail. When the donor insulin-producing cells stop working, the patient\u2019s diabetes comes back. Researchers still don\u2019t know exactly why the transplant stops working. We think that despite the antirejection drugs, the patient\u2019s immune system eventually detects that the cells are from a different body and attacks them."