Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Saving Your Life
This is a familiar site in NJ in the spring. This pair of horseshoe crabs are involved in important work. They could be saving your life.
Horseshoe crab blood is worth about $15,000 a quart. The pharmaceutical industry uses the blood to test for impurities in drugs and medical devices--everything from injectable medication to stents. So far, there is NOTHING else as reliable as the blue blood of these prehistoric creatures. No one has invented anything to replace it either. It's highly accurate.
It was when I was writing The Keeper's Promise that I went off on a tangent and discovered the worth of horseshoe crabs. The book is set in the Delaware Bay area, which has the highest population of horseshoe crabs. One of the characters in the story is a scientist conducting horseshoe crab research. I knew a bit about horseshoe crabs because I saw plenty of them in Raritan Bay when I was growing up there. But I did not have a clue about their amazing blood.
Naturally, there's really nothing in my book about the value of horseshoe crabs. I got sidetracked while I was writing. That sort of thing happens to me all the time. It isn't always easy to stay focused on the story at hand. It's a problem. Especially when I discover something truly incredible--and this thing about horseshoe crab blood is rather awe-inspiring.
So although I wasted some of my writing time in unnecessary research, I gained a new respect for the lowly horseshoe crabs. I was reminded of it when I read an article in the Asbury Park Press the other day, "Rutgers lab churning out baby horseshoe crabs."
I suggest you read it, too. You can find it here:
Those crabs may look grotesque, but they are invaluable to advances in medicine.