Type 2 diabetes can be brought on by excess weight and inactivity. Protein FGF1 offers hope for safer, more effective treatment of diabetes.REUTERS

Just one injection of a protein called FGF1 can help stop Type 2 diabetes in its tracks, scientists have claimed.

One single jab of this wonder protein, according findings referenced in a report in the Daily Express, can reduce symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and restore blood sugar levels to a healthy range for at least two days.

And this protein, that keeps sugar under control and reverses insulin insensitivity, does not result in side-effects, scientists say.

Wider use of this protein, they added, could pave the way for safer, more effective diabetes drugs.

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

"Controlling glucose is a dominant problem in our society," says Ronald M. Evans, director of Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory and corresponding author of the paper. "And FGF1 offers a new method to control glucose in a powerful and unexpected way."

Cases of Type 2 diabetes, which can be brought on by excess weight and inactivity, have skyrocketed around the world over the past few decades. Glucose builds up in the bloodstream because the required amount of insulin is not produced or because cells have become insulin-resistant.

Diabetes drugs currently on the market aim to boost insulin levels and reverse insulin resistance by changing expression levels of genes to lower glucose levels in the blood. But they can cause glucose levels to drop too low and also have side-effects.

In 2012, Evans and his colleagues discovered that a long-ignored growth factor had a hidden function: it helps the body respond to insulin. Unexpectedly, mice lacking the growth factor, called FGF1, quickly developed diabetes when placed on a high-fat diet. This suggested that FGF1 played a key role in managing blood glucose levels. The next obvious step was to see if providing extra FGF1 to diabetic mice could affect symptoms of the disease.

The researchers found that with a single dose, blood sugar levels quickly dropped to normal levels in all the diabetic mice.

The researchers found that the FGF1 treatment had a number of advantages over some diabetes drugs associated with side effects ranging from unwanted weight gain to dangerous heart and liver problems.

Researcher Dr Jae Myoung Suh, said: "With FGF1, we really haven't seen hypoglycaemia or other common side effects."

Importantly, FGF1 - even at high doses - did not trigger side effects like weight gain or heart and liver problems, or cause glucose levels to drop to dangerously low levels. Rather, the injections restored the body's own ability to naturally regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.

The mechanism of FGF1 still isn't fully understood but the group found the protein's ability to stimulate growth is independent of its effect on glucose. Understanding the way the protein interacts will help taking it to the therapeutic step.