London: The saliva of vampire bats, which feed on blood, can save lives of stroke victims, new research shows.
The saliva has a compound that can thin blood and dissolve clots in the brain.
Currently, most types of strokes need clot-busting shots within four hours of the attack for effective treatment.
But a drug derived from proteins in bats` saliva can have the same effect for up to nine hours.
Researchers who carried out a previous smaller study said the drug was "the biggest breakthrough" in stroke treatment in two decades.
The difference implies that drug Desmoteplase could be administered to stroke victims while asleep, the Telegraph reports.
Vampire bats were chosen because they use their spit to keep the blood of their prey thin enough to drink.
Doctors at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire are among the firsts in Britain to test the vampire bat saliva.
The trial is in its early stages, but if it went well, it could be in widespread use within three years, said consultant Christine Roffe.
Stroke units in Newcastle, London, Bournemouth, Glasgow, Liverpool and Exeter are also among more than 40 hospitals taking part in the international research, involving about 400 patients.