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Cocoa as a diabetes treatment?
Report: Candymaker Mars to work with drugmakers to use key component of chocolate in drugs.
July 25, 2005: 6:55 AM EDT
Is a treatment for serious ailments somewhere in this bag?
Is a treatment for serious ailments somewhere in this bag?

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Take two M&M's and call me in the morning?

The Financial Times reports that candy maker Mars Inc. is set to release research Monday that it says shows that a basic component of cocoa could help treat ailments including diabetes, stroke and vascular disease.

The privately held maker of M&M's, Snickers and 3 Musketeers is also expected to announce that it has discovered how to replicate these beneficial compounds, known as "flavanols." And the company will tell scientists meeting in Switzerland that it is in "serious discussions" with drugmakers about licensing the development of "synthesized flavanols."

"The mounting scientific evidence on coca flavanols is extraordinary," Harvard Medical School professor Norm Hollenberg told the paper. "This is a scientific breakthrough that could well lead to a medical breakthrough."

Hollenberg has shared research with Mars, according to the paper.

The paper reports that flavanols have been found in other foods other than cocoa, including green tea, red wine and tomatoes, and previous studies have shown the advantages of including flavanols in diet. Still even a researcher at Mars admits this breakthrough was somewhat unexpected.

"We are in a position that none of us could ever have imagined," Harold Schmitz, Mars' chief science officer, told the paper. "We have a valuable asset that's not just about food, it's about the pharmaceutical sector."

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