Researchers turn to bats for new stroke drug

Researchers turn to bats for new stroke drug
November 18, 2013 3:47:38 AM PST
A new stroke drug being tested by researchers right now is using the secrets of bat saliva.

Some smart person observed that when vampire bats feed on blood, chemicals in their saliva keep the blood of their prey thin to prevent the blood from clotting. Since most strokes are caused by blood clots, scientists isolated those chemicals in bat saliva and now they're testing them in a new stroke drug.

UTHealth and Memorial Hermann Hospital doctors are involved in the international study. They believe this drug could reverse paralysis if given up to nine hours after a stroke.

"It would change the landscape of how we treat stroke patients because right now, our only approved medication is up to three hours. So this would really expand the time window of when we could actually treat stroke patients," Dr. George Lopez said.

It's been almost 20 years since TPA, which was also studied here, was approved for stroke.

UTHealth researchers don't know how many lives might be saved, if they have a second drug that would be effective for people who can't get to the hospital within three hours of a stroke.

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