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Horseshoe crab research

Horseshoe crab research

G355/0091

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Credit

VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Horseshoe crab research. Horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) being taken from the sea by marine biologist Norman Wainwright. The horseshoe crab, contrary to its name, is a distant relative of the spider. It has existed unchanged for over 500 million years. Its immune system is primitive but powerful. Two proteins (limulin and alpha2-macro- globulin) in its blood are thought to be respons- ible for its entire immune response to invading micro-organisms. Similar proteins are found in human blood, and the research may provide an insight into the human immune system. Wainwright works at the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory, Massachusetts, USA. Photographed in 2002.

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