Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Paging Doctor Bat

Vampire bat venom could help treat human diseases and injuries

09 February 2019

Paging Doctor Bat

From Bram Stoker’s Dracula to modern-day horror movies, vampire bats like this one get a bad rap. In fact, vampire bats only rarely feed on human blood, usually only resorting to snacking on unsuspecting sleeping humans when their regular sources of food like farm animals are thin on the ground. These bats could even provide benefits for human health: scientists have discovered that the chemicals they produce in their venom in order to relax blood vessels and keep the red stuff flowing from their prey could be used to treat a range of conditions from high blood pressure and heart failure to kidney disease and burns. Right now the work is on hold, though, as violent drug trafficking gangs have taken over the area in Mexico where the bats live, making it unsafe for researchers to visit. Sadly, real people are much more dangerous than these vampires could ever be.

Written by Kat Arney

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