The recent development by researchers at the University of British Columbia, soon there will be a way to transform Type A blood into Type O blood which is more in demand. This can be a huge step in the field of blood donation if this technique proves to be safe.
The hospitals will be able to increase their ability to expand the number of people they could donate blood by switching the blood types.
With four main type of blood available ie A, B, AB and O, the type A and B consists of specific antigens and can be donated to other people with the same antigens. Type AB blood it has both antigens. So type A blood can also be given to people with either Type A or Type AB blood. In case the wrong blood is given, the recipient’s immune system will attack the new blood cells.
Whereas Type O lacks these antigens as a result of which it can be given to anyone. This makes it incredibly sought-after in the world of blood donation.
Dr. Dana Devine, chief scientist at Canadian Blood Services said –
This could be a game changer
The University of British Columbia researchers carried out tests where they treat blood with enzymes from the human gut, which in turn strip away the sugars that make up the Type A antigens. This effectively helps in turning it into Type O. Similar technique can also be used to remove Type B antigens, thus making it possible to turn any blood type into Type O blood.
Though the process does not change the Rh antigen, the “positive” or “negative” part associated with blood type. Hence it does not create a truly “universal donor” blood: Type O-negative. Yet it is a major step forward.
The major hurdle for the researchers was finding the right gut, as it had to consist of the right enzyme to change blood types.
Stephen Withers, a professor of chemistry at UBC in an email mentioned – “The gut wall is decorated with specific sugar structures, including that of the A-antigen. It seemed likely that gut bacteria would have developed enzymes to opportunistically cleave these sugars as a food source.”