Monday, 8 September 2014

A Tale of Two Species - Blue Blood

Horseshoe crabs' blue blood, which contains copper, not iron, is prized by the biomedical community for its ability to detect bacteria in human medicines. It's just one of the amazing qualities of the 350-million-year-old evolutionary marvel detailed in "Crash: A Tale of Two Species."

"Crash: A Tale of Two Species" aired on PBS Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 8pm as part of the 28th season of the Peabody and Emmy award-winning series produced by Thirteen in association with WNET.ORG for PBS. Major support provided by Canon U.S.A. Inc.

Here is a fascinating excerpt:

Horseshoe crab amebocytes coagulate around as little as one part in a trillion of bacterial contamination. Even better, the reaction takes 45 minutes, not two days as with mammalian equivalents. Coagulan, the chemical that makes this possible, is used for testing medical equipment and vaccines prior to use, without which many more people would die from infections. Unfortunately, coagulan synthesis is in its infancy so a quarter of a million crabs are harvested each year for their blood, as shown in this video:

Posted by Tim Sandle