Scientists discover how to CONVERT types A and B into type O

Pearl Mccarthy
August 25, 2018

Scientists at the University of British Columbia found that an enzyme produced by bacteria in the human gut can quickly transform Type A blood into Type O blood. Scientists collected the beans, trimmed the B antigens off red blood cells, and effectively created type O blood.

Lead researcher Stephen Withers said his team discovered enzymes living in the human gut that can change blood into universally usable Type O. That could prevent immune reactions when patients receive the wrong type of blood.

"Researchers have been studying the use of enzymes to modify blood as far back as 1982", said Withers. Using type-O negative blood in transfusions doesn't lead to unsafe, possibly life-threatening, reactions in the patient.

Now scientists may have discovered a potential solution to future blood shortages. "Our hope is that one day we can eventually render any type of donated blood, tissues or organs, safe for use by anyone regardless of their native blood type".

The team considered sampling DNA from mosquitoes and leeches, the types of organisms that degrade blood, but ultimately found successful candidate enzymes in the human gut microbiome.

In order to decrease the risk of spreading infectious disease, donation centers never pool blood donations, she said; that is, they don't put all type A blood together, etc.

Canadian Blood Services recently made an appeal for blood donors as their supplies, especially in rarer types, are running low.

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Live Science reports the most popular blood type in the United States is Type O-positive at 38%, followed by 34% of people having A-positive, 9% B-positive, 7% O-negative, 6% A-negative, 3% AB-positive, 2% B-negative, and finally 1% AB-negative.

"So we just simply add them to the red blood cells, they attach themselves to the surface of the red blood cell and then they cut the sugar off", he said Wednesday in an interview from Boston, where the research was presented at this week's American Chemical Society annual meeting. That's why O blood type donations are so important: as their red blood cells contain no A or B antigens, the antibodies of other groups won't attack them. So, in one fell swoop, they grabbed the DNA blueprints for everything those microorganisms might make - including, it turned out, enzymes that help the bacteria pluck sugar-studded proteins called mucins off the walls of the digestive tract.

Time is consumed testing the patient's type in order to save his life.

Experts from the American chemical society was able to identify enzymes that can efficiently convert the second and third group of blood in the first.

"You could see this being put into the bag at the time of collection, just sitting there doing its job", Withers said during the press conference. Whereas, other donated blood types can only be used on people who share the same type.

Expanding global blood supply is critical in light of growing populations and the frequency of natural disasters, Withers agreed.

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