Vampire bats may help treat high blood pressure

U. QUEENSLAND (AUS) — New treatments for stroke and high blood pressure may come from an unlikely source: vampire bat venom.

Researchers have discovered that vampire bat venom contains molecules capable of evading the victim’s immune system.

“Our 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,” says Bryan Fry, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Queensland.


“Just as snake venom has developed rapidly to stay ahead of evolving resistance in prey, vampire bats are rapidly evolving their venom to prevent the immune system of the prey from generating antibodies against the venom molecules.”

As reported in the Journal of Proteomics, vampire bats secrete multiple forms of the same active components, with myriad tiny changes scattered across the surface of the molecule, Fry says.

“This means that even if an antibody is generated against one molecule, there are a number of other ones that will sneak past the prey’s defense system and keep the blood flowing. This means the same victim can be fed on night after night.

“The discovery reveals a vast array of novel molecules, which have tremendous potential to yield new treatments for stroke and high blood pressure.”

Source: University of Queensland