Canadian researchers have developed a way to alter all donated blood into a neutral, type O-like variant that can be given to any patient.
Can potentially solve blood transfusion problems
What if a patient requires an immediate type A transfusion, but all that’s left in the blood bank is type B? That?s one of the donated blood problems that doctors have been trying to solve for decades. Most of the potential solutions were either expensive or inefficient. A recent research study out of Canada, however, may present a clever and affordable fix–a method for artificially changing blood types.
Scientists from University of British Columbia?s (UBC) Centre for Blood Research have developed an enzyme that may solve the said problem. The enzyme is designed to siphon off the sugars, called antigens, in Type A and Type B blood, transforming them into something that resembles Type O blood. The latter is known as the “universal donor” and can be safely given to patients with any blood type.
Mutant enzyme that alters blood type
In simple terms, Gizmodo explains that blood types refer to whether someone has an extra sugar molecule bound to their blood cells? surface. Those who are type A blood ?have one kind, B another, and AB both. On the other hand, Type O people have neither. That?s the reason why people with type O can essentially donate to anyone.
David Kwan, the lead author of the study, mentioned in a stated cited by a UBC news post, ?We produced a mutant enzyme that is very efficient at cutting off the sugars in A and B blood, and is much more proficient at removing the subtypes of the A-antigen that the parent enzyme struggles with.?
Popular Science noted that this is not the first time that scientists have produced blood with fewer antigens in the lab. However, this particular attempt by the Canadian researchers has worked better than any other. They used ?directed evolution,? a technique that involves the use of bacteria to create the enzyme and insert particular mutations in the microorganism?s DNA in order to make the enzyme more powerful. Once the the bacteria are cultivated over five generations, the enzyme will become 170 times more effective.
The researchers? work was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and entitled ?Toward Efficient Enzymes for the Generation of Universal Blood through Structure-Guided Directed Evolution.? According to UBC, the study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canadian Blood Services.