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
"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.
The Centre for the Conservation of Specialized Species has more