By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Did you know that the USA’s Food and Drug Administration requires that medical tools and vein-delivered drugs pass through crab blood before coming in contact with your body?
What might boggle your mind even more, is that this horseshoe crab blood is responsible for saving thousands of lives, because it can detect potentially infectious toxins!
See, the helmet-shaped critter has naturally high defenses against bacteria, with amebocyte cells in its blood that trap microscopic threats by thickening around them.
These helpful crustaceans can even improve space research! “The test was used to determine if certain types of bacteria were present on various space station surfaces,” explains Norman Wainwright, director of Research and Development for Charles River Laboratories, a company that manufactures toxin-detecting horseshoe crab blood products. He believes the system “could help perform biological studies necessary for an extended human presence in space, from crew health and spacecraft environmental studies to the search for life elsewhere in the solar system.”
Now, over 600,000 crabs are captured annually, and their blood sells for $60,000 a gallon!
Featured image courtesy of Tory Kallman on Flickr.