Mexican drug cartels are blocking access to vampire colonies that could revolutionize treatments for serious medical conditions, a research group says.
The University of Queensland-led group says it can not gather venom from vampire bats in the field because drug traffickers have moved into the area.
"We can not access our original field site in Mexico anymore, because we are told that region has been taken over by drug traffickers," UQ's biological sciences researcher Associate Professor Bryan Fry said.
The study group has discovered peptides found in the venom of vampire bats or mutated forms of those that relax blood vessels in humans.
"This could potentially help doctors in the treatment of a range of disorders with high blood pressure in small blood vessels, or may be able to improve blood flow to damaged or transplanted tissue such as skin grafts," Professor Fry said.
"We'll have to find new field sites that are safe to work in, but once we do that we will be on track to find new peptide variations and potential wonder drugs, helping to improve and save lives."