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Vampire spit gives strokes a licking

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10:51am, February 14, 2005

From New Orleans, at a meeting of the American Stroke Association

An experimental drug derived from the saliva of vampire bats can clear away blood clots in the brains of stroke patients and restore blood flow to brain areas starved of circulation. The findings come from a small number of people but have paved the way for a large trial of the novel drug, called desmoteplase, later this year.

Most strokes result from clots, but only about 1 in 20 patients receives the sole clot-dissolving drug approved for treating stroke, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). That's because most stroke victims get to a hospital more than 3 hours after they're stricken. By then, risk of hemorrhage from a dose of tPA outweighs the drug's potential benefits.

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