VAMPIRE bats could prove the latest animal to revolutionise the medical industry.
Their venom is being studied for a new class of blood pressure-regulating peptides, which could help in the treatment of a range of conditions including hypertension, heart failure, kidney diseases and burns.
But researchers can’t access the specimens needed to advance their work because of criminal activity at a Mexican field site.
University of Queensland researcher Bryan Fry said there was much more to be learned from the bats.
“This discovery is another example of why it’s so important to broadly protect nature, since we can’t predict where the next great biologically sourced drug discovery is going to come from,” he said.
“Venomous animals around the world are under threat, even more so than most other threatened or endangered species, due to deliberate persecution driven by fear or misunderstanding.”
Associate Professor Fry said his team was facing challenges accessing vampire bat specimens.
“We can’t access our original field site in Mexico anymore, because we’re told that region has been taken over by drug traffickers,” he said.
“It’s now too dangerous for even my Mexican colleagues to go there, let alone a gringo like me.
“We’ll have to find new field sites that are safe to work in, but once we do that we’ll be on track to find new peptide variations and potential wonder drugs, helping improve and save lives.”