Development of technology is proposed for controlled reproduction and rearing of juvenile Megathura crenulata, the Giant Keyhole Limpet, for use in the production of clinical grade Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin [KLH], an active, non-specific immunotherapeutic adjuvant used in research and treatment of certain cancers. The only existing source of KLH is from the hemolymph of wild Megathura collected through lethal exsanguination. The proposed research will use methods the investigator developed and proved effective for the domestication of Haliotis rufescens, a similar marine prosobranch gastropod, as the basis for a plan to develop the specialized technology necessary to spawn and rear Megathura in a controlled system. Preliminary results using adult Megathura grown at the company's marine culture facility have demonstrated that it is possible to produce high quality KLH from animals grown in captivity and fed specialized diets. It is expected that, with this research, a captive-breeding program can be established to produce a consistent supply of Megathura without reliance on harvest from a limited natural resource. They further propose to perfect formulated diets, identify preferred genetic stocks, and establish a breeding program to satisfy the long term demand of researchers and pharmaceutical companies seeking to develop and commercialize KLH-based therapeutic products.
The proposed research will create a reliable, environmentally friendly source of clinical grade KLH for use by pharmaceutical industry and the medical research community. Additionally, the research will create a source of live Megathura crenulata for use in the continuing effort to identify and purify new pharmaceutical compounds, and a supply of juvenile Megathura for restoration of the native population depleted by commercial harvest of the resource for KLH production.