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Japanese close to diabetes breakthrough

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Japanese researchers say they are a step closer to an oral treatment for diabetes, offering hope of a breakthrough against a disease plaguing an increasingly obese world.

Scientists at the University of Tokyo said they have created a compound that helps the body to control glucose in the bloodstream, tackling one of the key risk factors in the development of type 2 diabetes, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in many countries has been linked to a rapid increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Studies have shown that obese people tend to have lower levels of adiponectin, a hormone that regulates glucose and increases the effectiveness of insulin.

The compound developed by the Japanese researchers, which they have called AdipoRon, imitates the effects of adiponectin, though, unlike the hormone, AdipoRon is not broken down as it passes through the gut.

Toshimasa Yamauchi, a member of the research team and lecturer at the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo, said AdipoRon could be a lead compound in a possible oral treatment for diabetes and we aim to launch clinical tests in a few years.

Those with type 2 diabetes are advised to improve their diet and exercise, but the Japanese researchers said that this sometimes proved too much of a challenge.

‘’Dietary therapy is not easy, even for healthy people, no matter whether or not they are obese or have disease,’’ they said. “The opportunities for exercise have inevitably reduced drastically as society has become more automated.” 

Sanja Novakovic