Scientists at the University of Tokyo said they have created a compound that helps the body to control glucose in the bloodstream.
Glucose is a fuel that is vital to the functioning of organs all over the body, but too much of it is bad news. In some people it leads to Type 2 diabetes, a condition that can cause heart disease, strokes and kidney failure.
Doctors say the incidence of Type 2 diabetes has rocketed over the last few decades, a factor they blame largely on the growing number of overweight people.
Studies have shown that obese people tend to have lower levels of adiponectin-a hormone that regulates glucose and increases the effectiveness of insulin.
Now researchers in Japan have developed a compound they named AdipoRon that mimics the effects of the hormone. Crucially, unlike adiponectin, which is broken down as it passes through the gut, AdipoRon survives unscathed all the way to the blood.
AdipoRon could be "a lead compound" in a possible oral treatment for diabetes, according to Toshimasa Yamauchi, a member of the research team and lecturer at the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo.