A blood product from the wild-caught Atlantic horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) is used to detect bacterial endotoxins in vaccines, injectable medicines, and medical devices in human and veterinary medicine. Obtaining blood for the Limulus Amebocyte Lysate, or LAL, test involves capturing and bleeding over 500,000 Limulus from wild populations each year. There are significant animal welfare concerns regarding how the animals are caught, transported, cleaned and restrained, the blood removal process, and post-release mortality.

This study by Dr Richard Gorman, of the Animal Research Nexus, was funded by the Wellcome Trust and supported by the RSPCA Research Animals Department. It brings a social science perspective to understanding the debates surrounding the use of horseshoe crabs in endotoxin testing, using qualitative research with stakeholders, documentary and policy analysis. The report also identifies ways to move forward with implementing the 3Rs, with the principal aim of replacing the LAL assay with a completely humane, animal-free alternative.

Gorman, R Horseshoe Crabs and the Pharmaceutical Industry – Challenges and Alternatives: Project Report. 2020


Full article / DOI can be found here.