Monday, February 6, 2012

Leeches and their Playmates

Sometime before May of 2011, one-time Playboy Playmate Yvette Vickers passed away. Her mummified body was found at her home in Benedict Canyon, CA. Vickers was well known as the female lead in the Gene (not Roger, his brother) Corman cult classic Attack of the Giant Leeches.

Playboy Playmate Pamela Anderson has had her own experience with leeches, as she described to Colin Ferguson in 2008, blaming them for a series of scars on her left shoulder, but admitting that she's lied about it her whole life and she forgets.

A Different Pink "Ribbon" Campaign

Healing Breast Cancer With Leeches?

Malaysian news reports that a Sumatran homeopath claims to have cured breast cancer in many women with the application of leeches.

A bit lacking in the scientific method I am afraid. "I have not kept a record of the numbers but I think I have treated hundreds of women over the years and most of them were cured," Ismail said.

While I am highly skeptical, there is a kernel of truth. Most leeches have an antistasin in their saliva. It is one of many anticoagulants. This particular protein acts by preventing factor Xa from converting prothrombin to thrombin (thus preventing thrombin from converting fibrinogen to fibrin, and so preventing clot formation). Turns out that almost all Xa inhibitors, even those from hookworms have anti-tumor-metastisis functionality because they prevent a new tumor from creating its new blood supply (angiogenesis).
There's even a published research paper demonstrating effectiveness against lung cancer metastasis.