An international team of scientists led by Associate Professor Bryan Fry from the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences has discovered that vampire bat venom contains molecules capable of evading the victim’s immune system.
“Our team’s results point to entirely new forms of anticoagulants in the venom, as well as novel molecules that cause dilation of the small arteries near the skin,” Associate Professor Fry said.
“Just as snake venom has developed rapidly to stay ahead of evolving resistance in prey, vampire bats are rapidly evolving their venom to prevent the immune system of the prey from generating antibodies against the venom molecules.”
Fry said vampire bats secreted multiple forms of the same active components, with myriad tiny changes scattered across the surface of the molecule.
“This means that, even if an antibody is generated against one molecule, there are a number of other ones that will sneak past the prey’s defense system and keep the blood flowing. This means the same victim can be fed on night after night. The discovery reveals a vast array of novel molecules, which have tremendous potential to yield new treatments for stroke and high blood pressure.”
The study’s findings are published in the Journal of Proteomics.
About the School of Biological Sciences
Our work spans the scales of biological organisation, from molecules and cells to organisms, populations, species and communities. With more than 150 researchers working in evolution, global change biology, ecology, aquaculture, animal behaviour, physiology, entomology, zoology, botany, genomics, development and conservation biology, our researchers and graduate scientists are well-equipped to make a real difference in contributing to solving global problems.