Blue-blooded

We’re in the age of innovation yet our economy, medical industry and way of life rest on the shell of a crustacean older than the dinosaurs.

The 450 million-year-old horseshoe crab plays an integral role in Covid vaccine production and most medical innovation so far.

It sounds like deep science fiction, but the blue blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested by the healthcare industry. Each litre comes in at US$16,000. Google the topic for some horrifying images.

Their blood is the only known producer of limulus amebocyte lysate. These cells can detect a bacteria called endotoxin. Any amount of endotoxin in the body can prove deadly. The blood is used to test for its presence on needles, pharmaceuticals and prosthetics. Each year, 400,000 crabs are bled.

Of course, this isn’t a perfectly sustainable or harmless action. Crab numbers in some parts of America have fallen by 60% since 1990. It is estimated that 30% of crabs die during the process, even if they are returned to the ocean after bleeding. Where’s the artificial alternative? It’s coming but humans are struggling to outpace hundreds of millions of years of natural development. In 2016, a synthetic variation was discovered with moderate adoption but by 2020, US regulators refused to declare the alternative as effective.

The medical community is aware of our reliance on such a fragile and scarce resource. Natural disasters, oil spills, global warming all affect the crab populations and indirectly our ability to produce life-saving medicines.  It may sound sensationalised but the race for a safe synthetic solution is on. 

When you invest, your capital is at risk. The value of investments can go up as well as down and you may receive back less than your original investment.


Related


Stake logo
Download Stake
App Store logo
Google Play logo

  • Pricing
  • Blog
  • Free Stock
  • Stake Verified
  • Careers
  • Legal
  • Cookie Policy
  • Login
  • Sign up
  • Support
The value of investments can go up as well as down and you may receive back less than your original investment. Any advice is of a general nature only. As investments carry risk, before making any investment decision, please consider if it’s right for you and seek appropriate taxation and legal advice. The information on our website or our mobile application is not intended to be an inducement, offer or solicitation to anyone in any jurisdiction in which Stake is not regulated or able to market its services. At Stake, we’re focused on giving you a better investing experience but we don’t take into account your personal objectives, circumstances or financial needs. Please view our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Disclaimers before deciding to use or invest on Stake. By using the Stake website or service in any way, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions. All financial products involve risk and you should ensure you understand the risks involved as certain financial products may not be suitable to everyone. Past performance of any product described on this website is not a reliable indication of future performance. Stake is the trading name of Hellostake Limited (no. 11676409), authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 830771).
Copyright © 2021 Stake. All rights reserved.