The study has been published in the new Royal Society of Chemistry journal Metallomics.
When Hiromu Sakurai and colleagues from the Suzuka University of Medical Science, Japan, gave the drug orally to type I diabetic mice, they found it reduced blood glucose levels.
In previous work they had discovered the vanadium-allaxin compound treated both diabetes types when injected, but this new study shows the drug has promise as an oral treatment for the disease.
Type I diabetes (insulin dependent) is currently treated with daily injections of insulin, while type II (non-insulin dependent) is treated with drugs bearing undesirable side-effects - however - the researchers believe neither treatment is ideal.
The researchers aim to test the drug in humans in future work.