A major breakthrough by Irish scientists could prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes which affects 14 per cent of people over 40 in the developed world.
The research was undertaken at Trinity College and University College Dublin. Scientist there say they may have found the underlying cause of the disease.
It is "a big problem in Ireland", Prof Luke O'Neill, key researcher said. "There is a huge need to come up with new treatments."
The scientists have discovered that a hormone known as IAPP, which gets deposited in the pancreas, is the trigger for the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and can be caused by major weight gain.
The researchers have published their findings in the leading journal, Nature Immunology.
"We have found what might be the straw that breaks the camel's back in type 2 diabetes," said Dr Seth Masters, lead author of the publication.
It is the existence of the substance known as Islet Amyloid Polypeptide (IAPP), Prof O'Neill said.
"We have come across a key protein in the body called IAPP. This irritates the immune system in the body," Prof O'Neill said. "It is a breakthrough because nobody has come across this before."
The effect of IAPP is to ramp up the immune response where it occurs in the pancreas.
Pills could be developed to stop the formation of IAPP the scientists said.