Navigation Links
Misclassified for centuries, medicinal leeches found to be 3 distinct species

Genetic research has revealed that commercially available medicinal leeches used around the world in biomedical research and postoperative care have been misclassified for centuries. Until now, the leeches were assumed to be the species Hirudo medicinalis, but new research reveals they are actually a closely related but genetically distinct species, Hirudo verbana.

The study also shows that wild European medicinal leeches are at least three distinct species, not one. The results appear in the April 10, 2007, online version of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"This raises the tantalizing prospect of three times the number of anticoagulants, and three times as many biomedically important developments in areas like protease inhibitors," said Mark Siddall of the American Museum of Natural History, who led the research team. "However, it will also require a better effort to conserve these much-maligned animals, in a way that takes into account their impressive diversity."

While Hirudo medicinalis was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004, for use as a prescription medical device that helps restore blood flow following cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, Hirudo verbana has not been approved by the FDA and has no special conservation status.

"This study is a great example of why the field of taxonomy [the science of classification of organisms] is so important," said Patrick Herendeen, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research. "Taxonomists have been studying the diversity of life on Earth for hundreds of years. In this case, the discovery of previously unknown species diversity has very significant legal and commercial implications."

Since the time of Hippocrates and long before Carolus Linnaeus first described Hirudo medicinalis in 1758, medicinal leeches have been used in a variety of medical treatments--s ome legitimate, many not. Demand for leeches in 19th-century Europe grew so intense that efforts to protect them led to the some of the earliest legislative efforts at biological conservation.

Leeches are still afforded protection by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Berne Convention, and the European Union Habitat Directive.

Commercially available European medicinal leeches also are used extensively by biomedical researchers studying biological processes such as blood coagulation, developmental genetics and neurobiology. Studies of commercial specimens have figured prominently in the discovery and production of anticoagulants and protease inhibitors, some of which may have cancer-fighting properties.

That researchers have been mistakenly using Hirudo verbana in their work for decades may call much of this research, including hundreds of scientific publications, into question and force a reconsideration of what scientists think they know about this widely studied species.

Siddall and his colleagues examined mitochondrial and nuclear DNA of wild leeches from across their range in Europe, as well as from samples supplied by commercial providers and university laboratories that use leeches as model organisms.

Their analysis clearly showed that the commercial and laboratory specimens were not Hirudo medicinalis, as they were labeled, but Hirudo verbana. In addition, the work showed that the specimens of wild European medicinal leeches clearly comprised three genetically distinct species.
'"/>

Source:National Science Foundation


Related biology news :

1. New component of the brakes on nerve regeneration found
2. Strongest proof yet found for prion hypothesis
3. A puzzle piece found in unraveling the wiring of the brain
4. New World founders small in number
5. Norovirus found to cause travelers diarrhea
6. Pair of cancer genes found to drive both cell migration and division
7. Alien woodwasp, threat to US pine trees, found in N.Y.
8. Achilles heel of the herpes virus possibly found
9. Purdue scientists may have found key to halting spinal cord damage
10. Unexpected lock and key mechanism found for the assembly of tumor blood vessels
11. New protein vital for immune response is found in surprise location

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/10/2017)... , Feb 10, 2017 ... new report "Personalized Medicine - Scientific and Commercial Aspects" ... ... personalized medicine. Diagnosis is integrated with therapy for selection of ... on early detection and prevention of disease in modern medicine. ...
(Date:2/8/2017)... NEW YORK , Feb. 7, 2017 Report ... ... and should reach $11.4 billion by 2021, growing at a ... Report Includes - An overview of the global markets for ... from 2015, estimates for 2016, and projections of compound annual ...
(Date:2/7/2017)... Feb. 7, 2017 Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. ... healthcare, will present at the LEERINK Partners 6th Annual ... Hotel on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 10 a.m. ... the presentation can be accessed at http://wsw.com/webcast/leerink28/zbh .  ... conference via Zimmer Biomet,s Investor Relations website at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/22/2017)... ... February 22, 2017 , ... ... of women’s health, primary care, and specialty education, announced today it has ... (ACCME). ACCME’s Accreditation with Commendation is a six-year accreditation and is the ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... Origin (Origin Agritech, LLC, a subsidiary of Origin Agritech ... Arcadia (Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., NASDAQ: RKDA), a ... productivity traits and nutritional products, today announced their collaboration to achieve ... China to the United States ... ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... Md. and RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Feb. 22, 2017 ... ) today announced its financial results for the ... "Our annual 2016 financial results reflect continued ... earnings exceeded $700 million," said Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D., ... financial results strengthen our ability to develop and ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... ... February 21, 2017 , ... ... and development (R&D), today announced the establishment of Genedata Limited as a new ... Teburi, a recognized expert in life science informatics. Creating the UK subsidiary reinforces ...
Breaking Biology Technology: