Potential causes of mortality for horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) during the biomedical bleeding process
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Biomedical companies catch and bleed horseshoe crabs for the production of Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL), a product used for protecting public health (Berkson and Shuster, 1999). LAL is a clotting agent, derived solely from horseshoe crab blood cells, which is used to detect the presence of pathogenic gramnegative bacteria in injectable drugs and implantable medical and dental devices (Mikkelsen, 1988; Novitsky, 1991). In addition, LAL is used in many diagnostic tests for such illnesses as gram-negative bacterial meningitis and typhoid fever (Ding and Ho, 2001). Because the LAL test allows one to detect femtogram levels of endotoxin (Ding and Ho, 2001), it is the most effective test for detecting endotoxin contamination, and its increasing use in medical and pharmaceutical laboratories makes it a highly valued product.