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Leeches

The Discoveries page editor wasn't paying enough attention to the articles in today's MetroToday. First, the big headline of the reads "Insulin prays, pills working." The opening lines read as follows:
Insulin shots may go the way of blood-letting leeches as medical science closes in on ways for diabetes patients to simply swallow or inhale the human protein, researches said yesterday.

That in itself is excellent news, especially if in practice it turns out to be as successful as it has been in initial testing. It'll be years before this product is commerically available, however.

Another article on the page is entitled "Leaches (sic) could suck away arthritis."
Scientists have recommended a cheap natural therapy for arthritis - hirudo medicinalis, or more simply, leeches.

Since it's a somewhat superficial free daily paper, it fails to give much more in the way of details - such as where the data was published, who announced it ("Western drugmakers" with "a Russian team" responding) - that's all I can tell you on the actual discovery. But if we take the first sentence of article #1 as true, as well as article #2, then are insulin shots the new future wave to be thrilled about? Of course not. The throwaway insult about leeches in the beginning of the feature article is of the ilk of pseudo-informed articles that want to make themselves sound knowledgable - much like those articles which, with a superior air, offhandedly mention how "medieval" somesuch thing was, with the intended meaning of "completely out of date" or, perhaps, "barbaric."

Still, it was a funny coincidence to have both articles sitting there next to each other! (p. 17 if you have a copy).

Note: MetroToday often saves little random nugget articles like these for whenever they have space or get around to noticing the issue. Consequently, I can't even promise this was news this week or even last.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
cliosfolly
Jun. 17th, 2002 08:39 pm (UTC)
This is definitely a digression, just riffing off your comment about leeches: but there is a wonderful book from the 1860s called Enquire Within Upon Everything that informs the reader, in all seriousness, about the steps involved in making a leech barometer. The location of the leech inside the vial--and how agitatedly it is moving--give indications about incipient weather.
owlfish
Jun. 18th, 2002 08:25 am (UTC)
I've seen a picture of an extravagantly large version of that that looks sort of like a fountain! It has something like 12 leeches in it, and you could tell how humid it was, or whether or not it would rain, but the number of distended leech bodies sticking out. I can't remember too many details offhand, since it was in a talk given at my department earlier this semester and, looking back at the list of lecture titles, all I can ascertain is that the talk was entitled "Instruments and Insight: Models of Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Meteorology" which really tells me practically nothing about the contents. I know that the leech-fountain thing was an invention by the particular person the talk was mostly about. Nifty to know that there was a household-sized equivalent around too, and much earlier in the century than I think whoever this guy was was working.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )