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Bats Used To Treat Stroke Patients

Bats Used To Treat Stroke Patients

A new study has shown how bats can be used to reduce the effects of stroke…

Researchers in Sweden have discovered an unusual treatment that involves using the salvia from vampire bats to stop the blood clotting and reduce the disabling effects of stroke.

Vampire bats consume up to half their body weight in blood every night, so scientists were curious to find out exactly how these critters drink so much blood without it clotting.

William Likosky, MD, director of the stroke program at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, and his colleagues found that specific enzymes in the saliva help to break down the clots.

vampire bat saliva used to treat stroke victims 550x354 Bats Used To Treat Stroke Patients

Bat Saliva Used To Treat Stroke Victims

Image Credit: LTShears, 2009.

The team then took these enzymes to develop a drug, known as desmoteplase, which can be given to patients to reduce clotting immediately once they experience symptoms.

Once people experience symptoms of stroke they typically have just three hours to get to the hospital where doctors can administer the clot-dissolving drug TPA (tissue plasminogen activator).

By administering desmoteplase, this small window of time could be increased to as much as 9 hours, giving the patients a better chance for an improved outcome. While 9 hours is still not a fail safe amount of time to get patients to the hospital, Dr. Likosky explains:

“Those of us who treat stroke recognize that anything that can lessen the disability associated with it provides us a marvelous opportunity to help people.”


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  1. How Bats Are Helping Treat Stroke Patients. Everyday Health, 07/27/2012.

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