A Promising New Drug For Treating Stroke Victims Is Derived From?
Answer: Vampire Bat Saliva
A stroke occurs when restricted blood flow to the brain results in cell death. The two primary types of strokes are ischemic (when blood flow is restricted by some sort of blockage or constriction, almost always due to a clot of some sort) and hemorrhagic (localized hemorrhaging that impedes blood flow, typically as a result of a head injury or aneurysm). The vast majority of strokes are the ischemic variety and doctors have a critical window of time, around three hours after the stroke occurs, to break down or remove the clot to prevent further catastrophic damage.
To that end, powerful anticoagulants, compounds that prevent clotting and break apart existing clots, are the best non-invasive tool in their arsenal. In pursuit of novel and powerful anticoagulants, medical researchers have turned to the animal kingdom to study the natural anticoagulants found in different animal species.
So far, one of the most promising natural anticoagulants is found in the saliva of vampire bats. The enzyme in their saliva, desmoteplase (DSPA), is so effective that in clinical trials it actually extended the window of effective treatment from three hours up to nine hours while lowering the risk of bleeding in the brain after the dissolution of the clots.
Not only does the drug have fantastic potential to help stroke victims, but it’s got a pretty fantastic name too: Draculin, a nod to the most famous vampire of all.
Image courtesy of WikedKentaur.