Scientists step closer to making universal blood

Posted at 11:37 AM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 08:31:07-04

BOSTON (RNN) – Call it a gut feeling.

Canadian researchers have discovered enzymes in our digestive systems that could make it easier to produce universal Type O blood from Type A and B.

People with Type O negative blood are considered universal donors. They can donate blood to anyone.

“We have been particularly interested in enzymes that allow us to remove the A or B antigens from red blood cells,” University of British Columbia scientist Stephen Withers said.

“If you can remove those antigens, which are just simple sugars, then you can convert A or B to O blood.”

The researchers presented their results this week at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Having a process to quickly convert other blood types into Type O could make it simpler to donate blood during emergencies.

During a crisis, there’s often little time to test a patient’s blood type, making O the go-to type.

The new process being used by Withers and his team is 30-times faster than previous methods.

"I am optimistic that we have a very interesting candidate to adjust donated blood to a common type," Withers said.

"Of course, it will have to go through lots of clinical trials to make sure that it doesn't have any adverse consequences, but it is looking very promising."

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