Otsuka’s interest in endocrinology (the medical speciality concerned with hormones) began more than 30 years ago when research began into drugs to help people suffering from a condition in which they are unable to maintain an appropriate fluid balance in their body.

One such condition that Otsuka has focused on is hyponatraemia, where changes in the water and salt balance in the body may lead to symptoms that include lethargy, nausea, vomiting and headaches or, more seriously in certain rare circumstances, brain swelling which can lead to confusion, seizures, coma and even death.

Globally it has been estimated that hyponatraemia occurs in 15–28* per cent of combined acutely and chronically hospitalised patients. Hyponatraemia may result from various causes, is common in the elderly, and may be detected incidentally, such as on attending accident and emergency departments after a fall. Hyponatraemia is also commonly seen in patients in oncology departments, particularly among sufferers of small cell lung cancer.

*Ref: Hawkins RC. Age and gender as risk factors for hyponatremia and hypernatremia. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2003;337:169–172. doi:10.1016/j.cccn.2003.08.001. [PubMed]