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.