What medicines derive from crustaceans?
- connieLv 74 years agoFavorite Answer
Nearly 50 years ago, scientists discovered the horseshoe crab's clotting-response to bacterial toxins. Now, its blood is harvested in huge quantities, to be used in a test to ensure medical products are not contaminated. The helmet-shaped creature has developed a unique defense to compensate for its vulnerability to infection in shallow waters. When faced with toxins produced by bacteria, amebocyte cells in the blood -- colored blue by their copper-based molecules -- identify and congeal around the invading matter, trapping the threat inside a gel-like seal that prevents it from spreading. Over 600,000 crabs are captured each year during the spring mating season, to "donate" around 30% of their blood in a handful of specialist facilities in the United States and Asia. The blood is worth $60,000 a gallon in a global industry valued at $50 million a year.
Forty-five minutes of exposure to the crab's blood is enough to reveal endotoxins from gram-negative bacteria which otherwise avoid detection, and is sensitive enough to isolate a threat the equivalent size of a grain of sand in a swimming pool. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that intravenous drugs and any medical equipment coming in contact with the body must first pass through the crab's blood, from needles to surgical implants including pacemakers. As a result, thousands more of us survive such procedures. Detection is down to one part per trillion," he said. "But we can take it down to a tenth of a trillion, and further orders of magnitude more sensitive. The blood is finding other uses on Earth too. Japanese scientists have devised a test for fungal infections with it, and further research is developing anti-viral and anti-cancer treatment through the same principle of isolating and trapping threats.
A team of scientists from the University of Oxford have found a tiny little marine crustacean that produces a material with the adhesive characteristics of barnacle glue and the structural properties of spider-silk fibres. Barnacle glue is probably the strongest naturally-occurring adhesive known to man, and is completely unaffected by water. Combined, that's a pretty amazing set of qualities. Which is why next time you have a medical procedure that involves an implant — say a hip or knee replacement — it might well be made out of a material that dribbled out of this crustacean.
Scientists at the University of Bolton have developed a bandage containing crab shell components that accelerate the healing process within wounds. The bandage, a world first, has been designed by the university’s Fibre Science and Technology team. It is constructed using a key material: chitosan. Derived from crustacean shells, this compound is known for its antimicrobial properties, although scientists are still debating the mechanism behind this activity. It is already used in agriculture as a way to help plants fight off fungal and bacterial infections. In addition, it has impressive blood-clotting abilities, and reduces pain by blocking nerve endings. It’s also remarkably easy to produce. Several types of crustacean shells are treated with a strong alkaline substance, and the exoskeleton’s chitin – a derivative of glucose – breaks down into chitosan. To this end, chitosan has gained approval in the U.S. and Europe for use in bandages. In fact, products using chitosan have already been tested by the U.S. Marine Corps and shown to be particularly effective at stopping severely bleeding wounds. This project by the University of Bolton is the culmination of 10 years of research spawning from this approval process. Alchite, the primary construction material for the new bandage, is a combination of alginate – a gloopy substance in the cell walls of brown algae – and chitosan. Although there is research out there that demonstrates that chitosan does provide extensive wound healing and blood clotting, there’s no word yet on how much faster this new bandage heals wounds compared to conventional ones.
Active Carbohydrate Found In Crustacean Shells Could Prevent And Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD); Other Disorders
Crab, shrimp and lobster shells contain carbohydrates, calcium and protein. Dr. Shibata and his colleagues have refined the active carbohydrates in these crustacean carapaces by removing the calcium and protein and making small particles with the carbohydrates that are similar to bacteria, called mimetic microbes. The researchers have developed an oral form of this substance as a dietary supplement, and the team has demonstrated that oral administration of chitin microparticles reduces disease conditions of allergic asthma, food allergies, colitis and food-borne infections in animal models and seasonal allergies in humans. They have also conducted additional studies to advance their understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effects of chitin microparticles on macrophage activation. “In this new study, we are going to focus on intestinal macrophages and how these mimetic microbes we have developed can produce anti-inflammatory activities, normalize the gut bacterial flora and ultimately improve the symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease,” says Dr. Shibata.
In the 1990s, neurobiological work on decapods has revealed that the level of serotonin (another very important neurotransmitter in humans) varies with dominance or social status. This discovery has led to the acceptance that not all individuals, even in higher animals, including humans, will respond identically to certain drugs or treatments but rather to according to the chemical status of their brain (mood, confidence, social standing and well being). This has revolutionised approaches to treatments of certain conditions, especially in elderly, depressed or young individuals.
Studies on limb and neural regeneration in decapods (crayfish and lobsters) as experimental models continue to inform us about basic biological processes that have relevance (and possibly biotechnological application) for recovery from trauma or stroke, or in coping with human disease states such Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
- 4 years ago
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