Blue Bloods

Horseshoe crabs’ prized blue blood is ubiquitous in medical safety tests that detect contamination in IV drugs and medical implants.

Their copper-rich blood clots around potentially dangerous molecules in bacteria, which scientists leveraged to save patients from toxic shock.

But should the tests go synthetic? The 2 main suppliers of crab blood-based tests disagree.

Amid supply concerns and pressure from wildlife campaigners, Zurich-based Lonza—which stands to profit heartily from a switch—wants to forge ahead with the synthetic option, while Charles River Laboratories cautioned that making the move too fast could endanger patients.

Both have a business case for their position.



Ed. Note: For their important role in public health, horseshoe crabs made the list of GHN's popular 100 Objects that Shaped Public Health series.

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