Leeches (Hirudo medicinalis) have been used medicinally for centuries to treat injuries in which blood engorges the tissues. The logic behind this is solid: leeches produce an agent known as hirudin that is a potent, specific thrombin inhibitor. Leeches have been used to prevent thrombosis in the microvasculature of reattached digits. Lepirudin (Refludan) is an rDNA-derived protein produced in yeast. It has a molecular mass of approximately 7,000 Da. Lepirudin differs from the natural polypeptide, in that it has an N-terminal leucine instead of isoleucine and is missing a sulfate function at Tyr63.
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