The Year of the Crab: Marine Animals in Modern Medicine

William Sargent, Author, Robert J. Golder, Illustrator W. W. Norton & Company $14.95 (191p) ISBN 978-0-393-02403-6
While the blood of the horseshoe crab produces a sensitive diagnostic test for flue vaccine and spinal meningitis, this ancient animal has also contributed to studies in neurobiology, vision and the functioning of antibodies; the sea urchin adds to our understanding of cystic fibrosis; and the flounder appears to be an indicator species for detecting carcinogens in coastal waters. Such primitive marine animalstheir cellular structures and embryological developmenthave become valuable tools in biomedical research as the focus of studies of human physiology, writes the author. Sargent (Shallow Waters: A Year on Cape Cod's Pleasant Bay examines the life histories of these and other creatures. He also takes us to the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass., where scientists are working to find a check or cure for arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, AIDS and other diseases. The book is an engrossing blend of natural history and medical research. Sargent notes research difficulties: for example, a 50% mortality in drawing blood from horseshoe crabs. There has been a sharp increase in commercial squid fishing, and he raises the possibility of ""farming'' these animals to insure a stable supply. Illustrations not seen by PW. (May 18)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1987
Release date: 05/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-393-30540-1
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