In mice with diet-induced diabetes—the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in humans—a single injection of the protein FGF1 is enough to restore blood sugar levels to a healthy range for more than two days.

Researchers found that sustained treatment with the protein doesn’t merely keep blood sugar under control, it also reverses insulin insensitivity—the underlying physiological cause of diabetes. Equally exciting, the newly developed treatment doesn’t result in side effects common to most current diabetes treatments.

This discovery, published online in the journal Nature, could lead to a new generation of safer, more effective diabetes drugs, researchers say.

Suh JM, Jonker JW, Ahmadian M, et al. Endocrinization of FGF1 produces a neomorphic and potent insulin sensitizer. Nature. 2014 Jul 16. [Epub ahead of print.]