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Biomolecular basis for the leechcraft has been researched

Researchers from a number of institutes and universities in Moscow and the Moscow Region have performed DNA and RNA analysis of cells of three species of leeches, a medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis among them. The analysis showed that there are many genes 'responsible' for the therapeutic properties of the saliva of the animal, and the exact functions of those genes are still unknown. Some of them probably are not of the leeches themselves, but of their microbiota. A preprint of the scientific article is available on the biorXiv server.
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It is believed that the therapeutic effect of leeches is to be attributed mostly to anticoagulants, which are present in leeches' saliva. However, DNA sequencing and the evaluation of RNA composition of salivary gland cells of medical leeches showed that genes are active in them that do not encode anticoagulant substances. Some of these genes belonged to bacteria that inhabited the body of leeches.

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