Horse shoe crabs on beach

The humble animal who saves the most human lives

Horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) during spewing season:

Credit for ‘most lives saved’ must go to the Atlantic horseshoe crab Limulus polyphemus.
The American Horseshoe Crab is a unique and valuable marine invertebrate.

In 1950, while searching for medical cures, scientists isolated a bright-blue blood a clotting agent, conagulogen, that binds to fungi and endotoxins from the horseshoe crab.
Horseshoe crabs do not have haemoglobin in their blood, but instead use hemocyanin to carry oxygen. Because of the copper present in hemocyanin, their blood is blue. The blood of this crab is used to test drugs and implants for endotoxins. Endotoxins are byproducts of bacteria that remain even after sterilisation

Oxygenated blood is harvested from the pericardium of wild-caught crabs, which are then returned to the sea.
This led to a simple yet reliable method for detecting the impurities in daily used medical equipment and pharmaceutical drugs.

The product is used to test drugs and medical instruments, saving pretty much anyone who has ever received any medical attention.

Source: BBC Wildlife

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