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'Infrared Detector' May Lead Vampire Bat to Blood

'Infrared Detector' May Lead Vampire Bat to Blood

08/03/11

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Vampire bats have heat-detecting molecules that help guide them to blood-rich locations on victims, scientists say.

It's long been known that vampire bats know where to bite in order to get a good meal of blood from a vein, but the researchers believe this is the first study to explain how they do it.

American and Venezuelan researchers investigated wild vampire bats in South America and discovered that nerve endings on their noses have a sensitive, heat-detecting molecule called TRPV1.

The study was published Aug. 3 in the journal Nature.

"Vampire bats feed on blood, and it's useful for them to have an infrared detector to be able to find the circulation," research leader David Julius of the University of California, San Francisco, said in a university news release.

Similar TRPV1 molecules in the pain-sensing nerve fibers in the human tongue, skin and eyes play a role in pain sensation. Various companies are trying to develop new pain drugs that target molecules such as TRPV1.

More information

The Centre for the Conservation of Specialized Species has more about the vampire bat.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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