Horseshoe Crabs Are Saving Your Life

Wired presents this great gallery showcasing the steps taken to obtain the precious lifeblood of these horseshoe crabs. But its not anything grisly or cultish. Their blood was found to detect impurities in drugs and medical supplies.

Specifically, it's the Limulus amoebocyte lysate present in their blood that does the deed. Charles River and five other FDA-licensed companies harvest the blood and then send the creatures back home. Here's how.

Catch 'em!

Clean 'em! The crabs are kept safe and damp while they're inspected for injuries.

Probably the most harrowing part of the journey, the crabs are then racked and bled. A stainless steel needle drains about 100mL of oxygenated blood into a sterilised container.

Then they're set free 110km-130km away from where they were caught so they aren't harvest again. The blood they didn't donate is enough to keep them alive before they recover.

The blood is centrifuged as the first step in creating LAL.

The LAL is then sold at $US15,000 a quart to facilities that treat soldiers, and even sent to the International Space Station. [Wired]

Image: Andrew Tingle

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