Blood sucking leeches are back in high demand. Polish company Biogen is breeding the slimy creatures because it claims they’re being requested in masse by doctors around the globe.
Arthur Kleina, the head of Biogen Laboratory, stated, “[The doctors] also use them after transplantation, for example fingers, when there is the need to rebuild micro blood vessels, leeches help us in the regeneration process.”
Treatment involving leeches is called hirudotherapy. Leeches can introduce over 300 substances into a host’s bloodstream, which can have some beneficial medical effects, like releasing endorphins that can calm patients.
Sport clubs are also reportedly using leeches to speed up athletes’ muscle recovery. Biogen is also studying how leeches breed in space, but the creatures don’t want to mate in zero gravity. Even breeding them in a lab on earth has proved difficult because, apparently, the three species Biogen breeds are pretty picky about the conditions they’ll reproduce in. Despite this, the lab has bred leeches for 20 years and ship 400,000 of them annually around the world. The thought of a creepy slimy worm sucking your blood would likely be most people’s idea of a nightmare — but maybe there are actually as many benefits to leeches as Kleina claims.