A team of scientists in Ireland has developed a series of new compounds which in time could be used to help treat Type 2 diabetes. 

The chemicals mimic the effects of exercise on the body, by making it more difficult for cells to convert glucose into energy, and causing the sugar to be stored instead.

Caused by higher than normal levels of glucose or blood sugars, diabetes can have serious health consequences for those with the chronic illness.

It is a growing problem here and around the world, with 200,000 people in Ireland with the illness, while globally over 370 million people have Type 2 diabetes. 

After five years of work, a team at the Department of Chemistry at NUI Maynooth, led by Dr John Stephens, has developed a series of new compounds which could help treat the condition.

When physical activity and exercise takes place, cells have to change more glucose into energy than when the body is at rest.

The chemical mixtures developed by the Maynooth team make it more difficult for that process to take place, causing the cells to subsume more glucose than normal.

By doing this, the high levels of glucose that Type 2 diabetes sufferers experience should be kept to a minimum, and weight gain kept down.

The doses required should be lower than normal treatments for the condition, and the side effects reduced.

At present the research has only been carried out on mice in the lab, and has not yet been tested on humans.

"We are now looking forward to our next phase of research, which will see us undertake further lab studies and early clinical trials," said Dr Stephens in a statement.

"We are still a long way from seeing this reflected on the shelves in pharmacies; however, these compounds have the potential to become an important tool for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes for future generations."