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The blood of the horseshoe crab provides a valuable medical product critical to maintaining the safety of many drugs and devices used in medical care.
A protein in the blood called Limulus Amebocyte Lysate (LAL) is used by pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to test their products for the presence of endotoxins, bacterial substances that can cause fevers and even be fatal to humans. why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4 below.
The LAL test is one of the most important medical products
derived from a marine organism to benefit humans.
why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4 reasons
- It’s used to make a concoction called Limulus amebocyte lysate. It contains a special clotting agent.
- Drop a minuscule amount of it onto a medical device or vaccine, and the LAL will encase any gram-negative bacteria in a jelly cocoon.
- Alerting us to the presence of what could become a potentially lethal infection and prevent it from spreading.
- Before LAL, scientists had no easy way of knowing whether a vaccine or medical tool was contaminated with bacteria.
A horseshoe crab’s blood has a blue to blue-green color when exposed to the air. The blood is blue because it contains a copper-based respiratory pigment called hemocyanin.
To learn more, visit the links on the left.
Why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
The most popular use is for testing for the presence of pyrogens (molecules or
microbial fragments that cause fever) in sterile liquids meant for IV
administration. It’s called the LAL test (limulus amebocyte lysate test), and it
makes use of the purified blood cells of the horseshoe crab. why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4, why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
The horseshoe crab blood cells form a sort of gel that indicates the presence or
pyrogens. If the IV fluid tests positive in the LAL assay, it means that the batch is
not safe for use. why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4 reasons.
Horseshoe crabs do not have hemoglobin in their blood, but instead
use hemocyanin to carry oxygen. why is horseshoe crab blood valuable, Because of the copper present in hemocyanin,
their blood is blue. Their blood contains amebocytes, which play a role similar to
white blood cells of vertebrates in defending the organism against pathogens.
Amebocytes from the blood of L. polyphemus are used to
make Limulus amebocyte lysate, which is used for the detection of bacterial
endotoxins in medical applications. The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested for
This is a kind of sea-life which can be date back to the very old era. we call it “鲎”in
Chinese. I once ate it for one time in Zhan Jiang, Guang Dong province.
The local told us that its blood is blue and why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
will be very good for our health, it had special effect on some annoying disease .
So many people hunt it to eat because of it.But I looked up from Google and
found nothing about its blood’s effect. It looks not red but blue because it’s
rich in Cu. Thus, why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
The horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) is an ancient animal from an
evolutionary perspective, why is horseshoe crab blood valuable so for
an immunologist like me, looking at its blood
system is like seeing a low tech, but elegant old classic car. That blood system
includes components from nearly a billion years ago, way before T and B cells
evolved (bedrock of adaptive immunity, which “newer” species like us rely on).
One of those components is a blood cell called the amoebocyte, sort of a
primitive why is horseshoe crab blood valuable.
macrophage. The amoebocyte contains a clotting protein called coagulogen
which has evolved to be exquisitely sensitive to endotoxins from Gram-negative
bacteria. This has turned the horseshoe crab into a source material for LAL
(Limulus amoebocyte lysate), a component for the endotoxin assay, part of a $2B
biological safety testing market to ensure that the injectable i.v. solutions & drugs
used in the hospital setting are not contaminated with Gram-negative bacteria
that could potentially kill the patient via septic shock.
The following link from an invertebrate biology course at NC State contains a very
informative and insightful history of why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
Fred Bang and the discovery of LAL in the 1950s:
Few organisms are as odd, or as old, as the horseshoe crab.
That they predate the dinosaurs, a time when everything was large, might explain
their oversize, helmet-shaped shells, which can grow as large as 20 inches.
They limp along the tidal flats as if a smaller creature was hiding inside that shell,
using it to move about incognito. Anatomically, they’re more like spiders than
crustaceans, and they fluoresce under ultraviolet light.
But perhaps their unique feature is how their blood, which is bright blue,
coagulates when exposed to harmful bacterial endotoxins, a feature that has kept
them alive for about 450 million years. why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
Bacterial endotoxins induce inflammation and fever, and can cause anaphylactic
shock and death. They are responsible why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4. Note, why is horseshoe crab blood valuable henceforth.
A portion of the blood is used to test for the presence of very low levels of
“endotoxin”. why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
This is a substance released from the membranes of Gram – bacteria and which
can induce fever and other reactions in humans.
Manufacturers of pharmaceuticals can use the horseshoe crab blood to insure
that their product is free of endotoxin. why is horseshoe crab blood valuable thus,
for venereal disease, bacterial meningitis as well as cholera, bubonic plague and
other diseases. Immune cells in the crabs’ blood trap and immobilize these type
of endotoxins, rendering them inert.
It’s a blessing and a curse because once scientists discovered this amazing
defense system back in the 1960s, we began using it for ourselves, bleeding
horseshoe crabs and separating out that clotting feature to test medications,
needles and biomedical devices to make sure they are contaminant free.
Their blood has been so useful — enabling scientists to create vaccines that help
humans fend off everything from migraines to melanomas and most recently
the coronavirus — that we’ve made a dent in their population.
But while science created a problem, it may be able to fix it.
A new technology is available that uses a man-made version of crab blood to
detect endotoxins, but it has stirred a debate over whether it is as good.
The debate has pitted conservation-minded scientists against a board that sets
scientific standards why is horseshoe crab blood valuable for the
pharmaceutical industry, which believes more study
needs to be done before a synthetic version of crab blood can be used.
It is used to test for why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
contamination during the manufacture of anything that might go inside the
human body: every shot, every IV drip, and every implanted medical device
It is used to test for contamination why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
during the manufacture of anything that might go inside the human body:
every shot, every IV drip, and every implanted medical device.
why is horseshoe crab blood valuable, It is used for Medical equipment and
Vaccine testing prior to use – Quite a lot actually and this in turn saves many lives
. The active agent here is Coagulan. Unfortunately the harvesting of this is in it’s
infancy so a TON of crabs have to be harvested for their blood.
Even with protective measures in place (such as harvesting only 30% of blood from each Crab, after which it is why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
returned to the ocean) it is estimated that this procedure 35% of females breed
less. But hey….apparently at $15,000/liter perhaps the industry is turning a blind
eye. Ok. Not perhaps. More like for sure.
Yes, but we are unsure exactly what that experience is to the crab. Horseshoe
crabs have a nervous system that why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
is capable of encoding noxious stimuli, which is the foundation of a pain response
. This stimuli is then processed by the brain, which is why different people have
different pain tolerances. The brains of horseshoe crabs are very primitive,
so it’s impossible to predict if they feel “pain” why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
in the same way that we or other creatures do. why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
In my experience working with them, I’d say they can certainly experience some
sort of discomfort associated with pain. They have specific reactions to pain
stimuli and will contort or clench up, so it obviously isn’t a pleasant experience.
They are also a lot smarter than many people believed. Their brains do a lot of
insane synchronizing with their visual sensory inputs, and they seem to have an
ability to be why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
conditioned to certain stimulus. For example, almost all of the horseshoe crabs I
have worked with demonstrated a connection with my voice and getting fed.
I noticed that why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
when I would walk into the lab, away from them, and speak to the other
researcher, they would pile up on the side where I would normally feed them.
If I entered silently they behaved normally. why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
I was even able to “call them over” to feed them, which made me realize how little
we know about their intelligence. why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
Each individual showed a different capability to learn this, and if they don’t like
the food being offered (clam was their least favorite) they would stop coming to
my why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
voice until the next feeding session. Given this I think that their interpretation of
pain might be closer to ours than we might initially think.
Let’s start with why we want their blood in the first place.
There is a factor in horseshoe crab blood that is extremely sensitive to certain impurities such that it is used to test why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
pretty much every injectable pharmaceutical in the world. Historically speaking,
limiting access to this resource by ‘protecting’ the crabs would likely piss off the
pharmaceutical industry; and you know how that would go.
Second, how is the blood obtained? why is horseshoe crab blood valuable
Horseshoe crabs live a mostly solitary life in fairly shallow water (<100 feet).
That changes at spawning time when they congregate in high concentrations on
specific beaches to lay their eggs. During that period the animals are collected,
taken to a lab, their blood partially drained, after which they are returned to the
wild. American practices for this are fairly conservative and have a decent survival
rate. Asian practices…. not so much. Regardless of lab practices,
you’ve still got animals being collected right when they are trying to reproduce.
Obviously that means less eggs and fewer baby crabs to form the next
generation. What is less obvious is that the eggs are a major food source for
migratory shore birds – To the point that the birds time their migration to arrive
at spawning beaches at the right time. why is horseshoe crab blood valuable.
When unfavorable organisms such as Gram negative bacteria are present,
these proteins are produced, causing the animal’s blood to clot around
the wound and germs, saving the animal from further damage.
Vaccines, injectable medications, intravenous solutions, and implanted medical
devices for people and animals are proven to be safe using a test derived from
horseshoe crab blood. horseshoe crab blood price
As we moved on to bleeding crabs for biomedical purposes, there also wasn’t a
real incentive to develop a commercial system. Spawning events in states like
Maryland and North Carolina have thousands of horseshoe crabs coming to the
shores to spawn, and it’s simple to scoop them up and take them to a nearby lab
As their population numbers have begun decreasing, scientists have sought
alternatives to the wild harvest. The most popular development so far was a
synthetic reagent that could replace the reagent made from their blood,
however despite its success in Europe and moderate success in Asia,
the United States refuses to really accept it. This reagent was patented
until 2018 by the biomedical company Lonza, and now even though other
companies can manufacture similar reagents it is much cheaper to create
LAL reagents. horseshoe crab blood price Producing synthetic reagents requires
culturing genetically modified insect cells, whereas producing LAL reagents
from blood requires centrifugation and lysing, which is essentially no-cost on their end. horseshoe crab blood price
It’s a tricky industry to get into. For one thing horseshoe crabs take up to 10 years
to mature in captivity, so even when they were popular as bait nobody ever
thought to develop a commercial-level aquaculture system for them.
A lot of the aquaculture/life support systems we have in aquatics today is thanks
to the economic incentive of farming a profitable marine species. Horseshoe
crabs take too long to raise, so there was no incentive to keep them in
aquaculture. So what is the horseshoe crab blood price
Horseshoe crabs are very difficult to keep alive in managed care.
Even at AZA accredited aquariums you see a high degree of horseshoe crab blood facts mortality. Even worse, horseshoe crab blood facts are hard to get to breed.
Every population of horseshoe crabs uses slightly different environmental cues to
trigger spawning events even within the same species, which can range from
moon cycle, water salinity, geographic location, water temperature, etc.
This makes artificial insemination one of the only reliable ways to get them to
breed in captivity, and that requires money and time that companies aren’t
willing to spend. horseshoe crab blood facts
Furthermore, horseshoe crabs kept in captivity often have poor blood quality for
biomedical purposes. Their amebocyte count is low and the reactivity of the LAL
produced from their blood is reduced. For a long time we didn’t know why since their base needs seemed to be met, so aquacultured horseshoe crabs were
a poor choice for producing LAL reagents.
Thankfully, recent research suggests that diet variation is the key to maintaining
biomedical-grade blood quality in captive horseshoe crabs. Since horseshoe crab blood facts eat a varied diet in the wild, scavenging off of whatever they can find,
mimicking this in captivity produces high quality blood. In fact, aquacultured
blood can exceed the quality of wild-harvested blood. In the coming years if the
synthetic reagent fails to gain traction and population numbers continue to
decline, you might see a rise in horseshoe crab blood facts aquaculture.
So, the LAL test is used to detect LPS from a variety of sources, blood, urine, etc.
LAL stands for Limulus Amebocyte Lysate test. So, to do the test, Limulus (crab)
amoebocytes (blood cells) are lysed (split open) to obtain the lysate which will
make a gelatinous clot in the presence of LPS/endotoxin.
The clotting can be followed in a variety of ways, including turbidity
measurements and colormetrically. I understand the test is very sensitive.
It is used in the manufacturing process for all(almost all?) Pharmaceutical drugs.
You see, the funny thing about their blood is that it will congeal in the presence
of impurities. (Folks closer to the process can fine tune that high level description,
OTOH the OP could look it up themselves. Its not exactly hidden information on
the internet. )
IOW its used to ensure the drugs you take to save your life are pure and can do
Gosh I remember as kids, we were certain their tail would pierce your foot if you
stepped on it, God only knew what teeth and stingers they had under that shell.
Truth is they couldn’t hurt you if they tried! Completely and absolutely harmless
critters, who just happen to be key figures in the eco system.
Hoseshoe crabs are not dinosaurs, however they were around when dinosaurs
were. Horseshoe crabs belong to an order known as Xiphosura, and they are
arthropods that first appeared about 445 million years ago in the fossil record.
What’s cool about them is that modern horseshoe crabs are fundamentally the
same as the ones we find in the fossil record, so when we look at a horseshoe
crab we’re looking at a creature that dinosaurs would have seen as well.
Other Meanings of Blue Blood.
Blue blood is a compound word, which is a term made up of why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
two or more words that have a different meaning when used together than the literal interpretation of the separate
words. Blue blood has an interesting origin story We will examine the meaning of blue blood, where the term came
from and some examples of its use in sentences. why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4
A blue blood is someone of noble birth or someone who is born into a family with a high social rank.
For instance, descendants of the occupants of the ship the Mayflower are considered blue bloods in the United States,
though they are certainly not nobility. The why is horseshoe crab blood so expensive top 4 word blue blood is an open
which is one made up of two separate words. The term blue blood is taken from the Spanish term Sangre Azul, which
literally translates as blue blood. Old, Castilian families boasted that they had no Moorish antecedents in their bloodlines,
and pointed to the blue veins in their arms as proof. Obviously, their veins appeared very blue against their pale white
skin. This term migrated into English in the early 1800s. The plural form is blue bloods, and the adjective form is blue-
blooded. Note that the adjective from is hyphenated.
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