Creepy Creatures Can Be Medical Marvels, Too
SUNDAY, OCT. 22, 2017 -- Creepy crawlers like leeches, maggots, snakes and ticks might make you squeal in fear or disgust, but they could save your life.
All of them protect one thing people can't live without: blood. And that means they have a role to play in modern medicine, according to the American Society of Hematology.
Leeches have a substance in their saliva called Hirudin that helps prevent blood clots in microsurgical procedures. Doctors use them to maintain blood flow to surgical sites. Without leeches, blood would pool in tissue, which could lead to disfigurement. Leeches have also been used around the world to remove blood from patients.
Ticks and mosquitoes also have useful saliva that could be important in development of naturally derived blood thinners (anticoagulants).
Maggots, meanwhile, are used to clean some types of wounds. Disinfected maggots are placed into a wound to eat dead tissue and aid healing.
Different types of snake venom are also beneficial.
Some snakes, especially vipers, produce venom that helps blood clot and can be used to monitor drug intake. When doctors give patients a blood thinner derived from leeches, adding some viper venom to a blood sample reveals how long blood takes to clot. If it takes too much time or too little, doctors say they can adjust the dose.
© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Posted: October 2017
Read this next
MONDAY, Oct. 19, 2020 -- A coronavirus strain that has plagued the swine industry in recent years may have the ability to spread to people, researchers say. Swine acute diarrhea...
THURSDAY, Oct. 15, 2020 -- Want to give your kids an immune system boost? Try letting them play in the dirt more often, a new study suggests. Researchers in Finland found that...
SATURDAY, Oct. 10, 2020 -- The truly scary thing about Halloween this year is that it's occurring during a pandemic, but there are safe ways to celebrate, the American Academy of...
More News Resources
- FDA Medwatch Drug Alerts
- Daily MedNews
- News for Health Professionals
- New Drug Approvals
- New Drug Applications
- Drug Shortages
- Clinical Trial Results
- Generic Drug Approvals
- Monthly Update Archive
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Whatever your topic of interest, subscribe to our newsletters to get the best of Drugs.com in your inbox.