They said that the vitamin found in meat and grains could benefit most people with diabetes - both type 1 and type 2 - as between 70 to 90pct of people with diabetes are thiamine deficient.
When the blood vessels that supply blood to the kidneys are involved, the kidneys stop working correctly and important proteins, such as albumin, are lost from the blood into the urine.
During the study, a third of the patients returned to normal urinary albumin excretion after being treated with high dose (300mg) thiamine orally each day for three months.
According to the researchers, thiamine works by helping protect cells against the harmful effects of the high blood sugar levels found in diabetes.
"This is the first study of its kind and suggests that correcting thiamine deficiency in people with diabetes with thiamine supplements may provide improved therapy for early-stage kidney disease," the BBC quoted lead researcher Professor Paul Thornalley as saying.
Charity Diabetes UK said that the results were "very promising", but still it was too early for any firm conclusions.