by William Sargent
Brandeis University Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-1-68458-077-4 | Paper: 978-1-68458-076-7
Library of Congress Classification QL447.7.S27 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 333.955

A timely look at the exploitation of a species that has helped with the development of countless drugs and is fast becoming endangered.
Because every drug certified by the FDA must be tested using the horseshoe crab derivative known as Limulus lysate, a multimillion-dollar industry has emerged involving the license to bleed horseshoe crabs and the rights to their breeding grounds. William Sargent presents a thoroughly accessible insider’s guide to the discovery of the lysate test, the exploitation of the horseshoe crab at the hands of multinational pharmaceutical conglomerates, local fishing interests, and the legal and governmental wrangling over the creatures’ ultimate fate. In the end, the story of the horseshoe crab is a sobering reflection on the unintended consequences of scientific progress and the danger of self-regulated industries controlling a limited natural resource. This new edition brings the story up to date as companies race to manufacture alternatives to the horseshoe crab blood, which is now essential for testing vaccines such as those developed to counter COVID-19. However, horseshoe crab populations are still dwindling, with profound implications not only for the future of the crabs themselves but also for the ecosystems that depend on them.

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