Tags: bacteria | type a | o | blood

Bacteria Turns Type A to O Blood, May Alleviate Shortages, Study Finds

Bacteria Turns Type A to O Blood, May Alleviate Shortages, Study Finds

Bacteria found in the gut may help turn Type A blood to O, the universally acceptable blood type, researchers said. (Krisana Sennok/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Tuesday, 21 August 2018 12:42 PM

Bacteria may help turn Type A blood to O, the universally acceptable blood type, which could help alleviate blood shortages, researchers from the University of British Columbia revealed Tuesday.

These findings were presented at the meeting of the American Chemical Society, where Steve Withers of the University of British Columbia explained that this technique "could broaden the utility of the current blood supply because Type O blood can be donated to anybody," New Scientist reported.

For years researchers have been scrambling to find ways to adjust donated blood to a common type, however, they have not yet been able to find an efficient selective enzyme that could do the trick while still remaining safe and economical.

Which is where Withers and his team come in.

Looking at enzymes that could remove specific antigens from the red blood cells, they turned to a method called "metagenomics," which allowed them to identify enzymes that could act in the blood to transform it into Type O, Medical News said.

They then used a specific bacterium that helped them to determine which types of DNA could code enzymes to remove certain sugars, including blood specific antigens that determine blood group compatibility.

"If you can remove those antigens, which are just simple sugars, then you can convert A or B to O blood," Withers said in a statement.

By homing in on the enzymes that the bacteria used to pluck the sugars, the researchers discovered a whole new family of enzymes that were 30 times more effective at removing red blood cell antigens than previously reported.

The discovery comes at a time when blood supplies are reaching crucially low numbers. Last month the Red Cross put forth an emergency call for blood donors.

"Each and every day, individuals across the country depend on blood and platelet donations for lifesaving treatments and emergency care, so it's critical that people donate now to meet these needs," Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services, said in a statement.

Burn and accident victims as well as patients undergoing surgery are all dependent on the availability of blood and platelets, but with critically low blood supplies, they may not be able to receive treatment, Healthline noted.

Which is why researchers are rushing to find a way to address the situation.

Withers plans to work with colleagues at the Centre for Blood Research at UBC to validate the enzymes and test them on a larger scale for potential clinical testing.

"I am optimistic that we have a very interesting candidate to adjust donated blood to a common type," he 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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TheWire
Bacteria found in the human gut may be able to turn Type A blood into the universally acceptable Type O, which could ultimately bring an end to blood shortages, researchers from the University of British Columbia revealed Tuesday.
bacteria, type a, o, blood
465
2018-42-21
Tuesday, 21 August 2018 12:42 PM
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