Biomedical companies harvest blood from horseshoe crabs to test vaccines

August 14, 2011

Here is good example of sustainable use of nature by people for common good.

For decades, biomedical companies have been collecting blood from horseshoe crabs. The blood is collected form the animals’ hearts. It contains protein in the cells and therefore acts like a primitive immune system, enabling scientists to test vaccines and bacterias that can be fatal to humans. For example, the crabs’ blood coagulates instantly when it touches pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella.

Biomedical companies harvest blood from horseshoe crabs to test vaccines

Once harvested (for approximately 20% of their blood), the crabs are released back into the sea. Estimates of mortality rates following blood harvesting vary from 3% to 15%.

About 500,000 horseshoe crabs are collected annually along the U.S. East Coast under interstate regulations. In a laboratory, blood is drawn from the crab’s primitive equivalent of a heart… The blood’s blue color comes from copper in its oxygen-carrying protein, hemocyanin— akin to the iron-based hemoglobin in humans.

via cellar.org

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