Lobster are a much beloved seafood. Decadent and scrumptious alone, lobster meat also enhances rolls, pizza, fritters, pot pie, or mac and cheese. It’s hard to visit Maine without tasting the large-clawed, eight-legged, antennaed shellfish somewhere, somehow. Now one company thinks lobsters could do more than add enjoyment to life. It suggests that lobsters could save lives.
Marine crustaceans have aided human health before. Protein from horseshoe crabs detects impurities in medical products. Crushed lobster and shrimp shells coat bandages and clot blood.
Lobster Unlimited of Orono (Maine) thinks lobster blood has potential to go even further. The U.S. Patent and Trademark office granted the company a patent on its work last fall. The company plans to use compounds derived from hemolymph, or lobster blood, to improve human health and possibly other mammals’ health too.
Interest in developing non-food products from lobsters has grown in recent years. That’s because Maine’s crustacean crop has grown by millions of pounds. Lobster leftovers become everything from Christmas decorations to gardening soil. But using them as medicine is entering a new frontier.
Biologist Diane Cowan says lobster blood isn’t red. It’s a kind of bluish-gray. Still, she says, the “idea that you can take something from one animal and use it for another is not outrageous.” She adds, “The circulatory fluid that runs through all bodies of all living animals is very similar.” It’s not surprising, since the same Creator-God made both lobster and human according to Genesis.
Lobster Unlimited scientists have found that a protein in hemolymph boosts immune systems. Experiments show the substance can also reduce the quantity of some viruses in human cells. Lobster Unlimited head Robert Bayer says there’s “no question [lobster blood] has antiviral and anticancer properties.”
Obtaining lobster blood couldn’t be easier. After all, it’s a byproduct of Maine’s 40-million-pounds-per-year lobster industry. “Right now, this blood is literally thrown out on the floor and goes down the drain,” says Bayer. “We can collect millions of pounds of it, which makes it a viable product worth pursuing.”
Lobster Unlimited doesn’t plan to manufacture or sell drugs—just extract the blood. The company would need to find researchers to develop and test new drugs.
Maine lobsterman Steve Train was surprised about the idea of using lobster blood as medicine. “I hope it’s true,” he says, adding, “These scientists know more than I do.”