Vampire Bat Venom Could Help Cure Stroke and High Blood Pressure - New Study

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Bats
Hundreds of bats entering a cave in Campeche July 12, 2014

New findings by the School of Biological Sciences from the University of Queensland suggest that vampire bat venom can help cure stroke and high blood pressure. The results were published under the title "Dracula's children: Molecular evolution of bat venom" in the Journal of Proteomics.

Vampire bat venom was found to have unique forms of anticoagulants, that help prevent blood to clot and molecules which trigger the dilation of the patient's arteries. Development of new drugs for the treatment of strokes and high blood pressure could be possible by identifying the traits of the vampire bat venom, believe scientists. It was found that the venom contained molecules which can evade the immune system of the victim.

Dr. Bryan Fry, lead author of the study, herpetologist and molecular biologist from the University of Queensland, said that snake venom has been developing at a fast rate to keep ahead of evolving resistance in prey. In the same way, vampire bats are also constantly evolving their venom so as to protect the immune system from generating antibodies against the venom. 

Fry explains, "The venom contains multiple forms of the same active components that present tiny changes distributed along the surface of the molecule. If the victim develops an antibody against one molecule, others will still be able to penetrate the defence system while keeping the blood flowing. This guarantees that the vampire bat can keep feeding on the same victim... night after night."

Bryan Fry said that his team's results point to entirely new forms of anticoagulants in the venom, as well as novel molecules that cause dilation of the small arteries near the skin. He noted that vampire bats secreted multiple forms of the same active components, with myriad tiny changes scattered across the surface of the molecules and that even if an antibody is generated against one molecule, there are a number of other ones that will sneak past the prey's defence system and keep the blood flowing.

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