I don’t get to the beach too much these days. But when my kids were young, we’d usually plan a beach trip once a year.
There’s nothing like a walk on the beach to get your head right. And I still have jars of shells my kids collected many years ago.
Besides looking up at the stars, there’s not much that can make you consider the vastness of our world and God’s majesty like staring out at the ocean, as far as the eye can see…
I used to wonder if there was someone at the other end, staring back… wondering the same things I was.
The sea contains so many mysteries. And one of the creatures that lives there, I’ve come to find out, is actually a major reason we avoid significant infections when we find ourselves hooked up to an IV.
The horseshoe crab.
Stay with me for a second. Because I found this story pretty cool…
Let’s say you’re pretty sick, and you end up needing intravenous drugs, or some sort of implanted device. The danger here is you develop a bacterial infection. D
Drugs can be tainted, and to put it mildly… your body isn’t a fan.
But this actually is pretty rare. And we have these prehistoric-looking crabs to thank for that.
Bacteria release something called “endotoxins.” That’s the root cause of an infection.
New drugs and devices need to be rigorously tested for these substances. So our drugs don’t end up making us sicker (forget about other side effects… that’s a topic for another day).
Until the 1960s, testing for these endotoxins was slow. Expensive. And difficult.
But researchers discovered a substance that seeks these invaders out. Binds to them. And makes them easy to find. It’s called “LAL.”
And as it turns out, a readily available source of LAL can be found in… horseshoe crab blood.
LAL is easily available and extracted from these crabs’ bright blue blood. And it takes 250,000 crabs to produce a year’s supply of LAL. You can only extract it once a year, or else the crabs will die.
If you think a gallon of gas can get expensive, be happy you’re not filling up on crab blood. It can cost as much as $50,000 a gallon!
So the next time you see a horseshoe crab on the beach, maybe give him a nod and a thank you.
What a weird world we live in.
Editor, Patriot Health Alliance