The story of Dracula may have to be rewritten, according to new research. Far from being a blood-sucking wraith, he could be a benevolent healthcare worker.
In fact, if you were a potential stroke victim, probably the best thing that could happen to you would be a bite from a vampire - or, failing that, a vampire bat.
Researchers have discovered that the saliva of the vampire bat contains a clot-busting substance that can be given much later than any current treatment, and still be just as effective.
Needless to say, a drug manufacturer has used an extract of the saliva, mixed in a few extra chemicals of its own, and is producing an antistroke drug called desmoteplase, which targets and destroys a clot-forming chemical known as fibrin.
It's currently being tested in major trials in Europe, Asia and Australia; thereafter, it could be a case of suck it and see (Stroke, 2003; February).