UQ’s batty breakthrough

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Bryan Fry: Picture UQ

Venom from vampire bats and other creatures is providing the basis for medical breakthroughs following the discovery of various ways bats can prevent blood clots.

The University of Queensland’s Professor Bryan Fry is leading an international team who have discovered new types of anticoagulants and new compounds that open arteries to assist blood flow.

Fry said the venom of the common vampire bat from Central and South America has much potential for use in drug development for treatment of stroke, heart disease and other ailments.

“The key to what we’re doing is the fact that I collect the venomous animals myself,” he said.

“Whenever possible I don’t purchase them, which is quite different from most biochemists who buy the venom, and they’re essentially all working on the same stuff.

“The biological reality is that they might miss the subtlety, because when you find venomous animals in the wild there will be ecological differences and differences in diet, vegetation and prey; thus they will be useful in different ways.”

Fry said when he was studying honours, he worked with viper venom which had a compound with potent cancer-fighting properties, “about 50 times stronger” than similar compounds of different populations of the same animal.

Synthetic version of the compounds studied by Fry and his team could be created for tests in further studies and drug production. Continue reading UQ’s batty breakthrough