New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger
Researchers hope they can count on vampire bats to develop a new treatment for stroke victims.
New data released Saturday suggests the bat's saliva may help quickly dissolve the clots in brain arteries that cause about 80 percent of all strokes.
Strokes are the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.
But the only widely available treatment, a bioengineered human protein called TPA has serious drawbacks, including disastrous bleeding.
In theory, the saliva of the vampire may may break up blood clots without affecting the rest of the body's clotting system. When the bats bite, the protein in their saliva keeps the victims' blood flowing clot-free so they can feed.
Experts say testing of the protein by a German firm shows it is promising.