Keyhole limpet is a species hailing from the Northeast Pacific belonging to the Fissurellidae family. It is scientifically referred to as “megathura crenulata”, which is a monotypic genus. This species is found in the rocky coast of western North America and Mexico. Keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) is a respiratory protein similar to hemoglobin in humans. It belongs to an oxygen-containing metalloprotein family found in hemolymph. A liter of blood from the keyhole limpet generally produces 20 grams of hemocyanin. There are two types of protein – KLH1 and KLH2 – which are around 60% similar on a structural level. Both exhibit a molecular weight 3,90,000 Daltons and consist of 3,400 amino acids in protein structure. Keyhole limpet hemocyanin is a copper-containing protein used in several medical applications. It is potentially immunogenic but does not cause any adverse immune response in humans. Keyhole limpet hemocyanin is available only in purified biological product form as it cannot be manufactured synthetically. The steps of purification include precipitation, dialysis, and chromatographic purification. Keyhole limpet hemocyanin is used extensively as a carrier protein in biotechnological applications. It also finds therapeutic and pharmaceutical applications. This protein is used in vaccine production as a vaccine carrier protein. It also exhibits anti-cancer activity in bladder carcinoma and has been tested in a variety of cancer vaccines which include cutaneous melanoma, non-honking lymphoma, and breast cancer. KLH is considered a complex protein to work with because of its property to precipitate and aggregate. It is a commonly used carrier in peptide conjugation for antibody production. Clinical trials are conducted by several pharmaceutical companies in order to discover new applications of keyhole limpet hemocyanin in immunotherapy.
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The clinical evaluation of the current applications of keyhole limpet hemocyanin remains an integral area for future research. High awareness in pharmaceutical and biotech companies about the therapeutic capabilities of keyhole limpet hemocyanin drives this market. The rapidly developing market for therapeutic vaccines for cancer and the proven efficacy of KLH as a carrier protein are expected to create significant potential for the pharmaceutical market, besides the optimal use of KLH in humoral immune response assay in human serum. The costly procedure of retrieving keyhole limpet hemocyanin however leads to the sluggish development of the keyhole limpet hemocyanin market. The current technical and therapeutic challenges in the clinical evaluation of KLH are also predicted to restrain this market.
The global keyhole limpet hemocyanin market has been segmented on the basis of type of KLH into the clinical and research grades. The former is likely to expand at a faster rate due to the heavy research taking place in the discovery of novel applications of KLH. Based on application, the market is categorized into the following sections: pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and research. Of these, pharmaceutical and biotechnology applications are considered to propel the market due to the identified and proven therapeutic capacity of keyhole limpet hemocyanin.
Geographically, the global keyhole limpet hemocyanin market is distributed over Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. North America was estimated to hold a major share in the market owing to the developed research-oriented infrastructure and rising demand for keyhole limpet hemocyanin from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the region. Europe is the second leading market. India, China, and Japan are developing countries in Asia Pacific motivating the global keyhole limpet hemocyanin market.
Key players involved in the market include Biosyn Corporation, Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC., Stellar Biotechnologies, Thermo Fisher Scientific, G-Biosciences, and Interchim Inc.
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