LAL is saving the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab
Thanks to its use in biomedical research, the horseshoe crab maintains its protective status allowing the population to continue to flourish. Without the continued need by the biomedical industry, the legal protection for this special species is not guaranteed, and horseshoe crabs would again fall prey to use as bait by fisherman.
To dispel the myths currently being disseminated within the biomedical industry about the population status of the Atlantic horseshoe crab and the use of its blood in the testing process, we present some key facts and scientific data to educate those who might be concerned about the horseshoe crab and to clear up any confusion.
There are not enough horseshoe crabs to provide the global LAL demands.
Fact: We’ve developed innovative technology that uses just 1/20th of the LAL needed for traditional
endotoxin testing. If all tests were performed using our optimized FDA-licensed PTS™ cartridge, today’s worldwide demand could be met with the blood collected from our bi-annual quota of donors without
needing to bleed a single extra crab.
The blood of the horseshoe crab is unnecessary for life-saving medications.
Fact: Most, if not all, life-saving drugs require compendial bacterial endotoxin testing before they are released. The current FDA-approved LAL test derived from the blood of the horseshoe crab plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of these products and, more critically, the safety of the patient receiving the product.
The biomedical industry is responsible for the declining population
of the horseshoe crab.
Fact: The biomedical industry’s need for horseshoe crab has in fact driven the development of laws
to protect the animal. Without these laws in place, the animal would fall prey to overfishing practices that,
prior to legislation, used for these animals as bait.
There are no restrictions on how many horseshoe crabs can be caught.
Fact: In 2000, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission introduced trawling quotas to limit the number of horseshoe crabs caught for uses other than LAL, reducing harvest numbers by 80 percent.
The Atlantic horseshoe crab is an endangered species.
Fact: According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Limulus Polyphemus is not considered an endangered or even a vulnerable species. The most recent stock assessment report published by Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), horseshoe crab populations have increased in the southeast and have remained stable in the Delaware Bay region.
Synthetic alternatives are more sustainable than LAL.
Fact: The blood of the horseshoe crab is a natural, sustainable resource that is treasured by the biomedical industry, making the donor animal the focus of protection and conservation efforts. Without the continued need by the biomedical industry, the legal protection for this species is not guaranteed and would again fall prey to use as bait by fisherman. The synthetic alternative to horseshoe crab blood is not FDA-licensed for end product release and requires time and funding to validate its use. As a non-FDA licensed product, it is also not controlled by the same strict quality requirements as LAL.
Biomedical companies kill horseshoe crabs for their blood.
Fact: Crabs gathered for Charles River’s strictly controlled bleeding program are hand collected
by licensed fisherman and carefully returned, unharmed, to their natural habitat the same day.
The horseshoe crab bleeding process is a big secret.
Fact: LAL manufacturers are required to provide detailed information on the number of animals bled, delivered, their sex, types of injuries and mortalities if any to the Department of Natural Resources. This information is then made public on the website of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Fact: An independent study was conducted that examined genetic markers of the horseshoe crab population spanning the South Carolina coast in 2015. This study indicated an immensely diverse and large population with abundant adaptive potential, ensuring long-term viability along the coast of South Carolina.
The horseshoe crab population lacks genetic diversity due to their inability
to spawn after bleeding.