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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Common blood donation could possibly be right here prior to we expect, as scientists uncover methodology to transform blood varieties


Final yr, the American Crimson Cross introduced that it’s dealing with extreme blood shortages — in step with world shortages of blood provides — that means life-saving surgical procedures, transfusions, and extra are placed on maintain.

Whereas extra donors are undoubtedly crucial, gathering the wanted blood provides is just not so simple as a visit to your native blood financial institution. It is because all of us have a unique blood kind

Actually, there are 45 recognized blood teams, all of that are categorized primarily based on the presence of sure antigens on purple blood cells.

Individuals might need A, AB, B, or O blood varieties, or have a constructive or unfavorable Rh kind. So, as an illustration, in case your blood kind is A-positive, you possibly can solely obtain A-positive blood. 

Thankfully, the O-negative blood kind is common and suitable with any blood kind, because it lacks sure antigens. Sadly, solely about 7% of individuals have O-negative blood

The explanation donor and recipient blood teams must match is as a result of the recipient’s immune system may assault and destroy the brand new blood cells, which could possibly be deadly. 

The excellent news? Researchers have found a manner to make use of enzymes to take away the sugars that make up a few of these antigens on A and B blood cells. This implies they’re one step nearer to creating different varieties of blood common.

In a research revealed in Nature Microbiology, researchers on the Technical College of Denmark (DTU) and Lund College in Sweden shared the findings of a brand new method.

Utilizing enzymes produced by micro organism (that the majority of us have in our guts already!), the scientists have been capable of strip purple blood cells of antigens and sugars that create distinctions between blood varieties.

The enzymes they used come from the human intestine bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila, which feed on the mucus that strains the within of our guts (cute!). The complicated sugars that cowl that intestinal lining are very chemically much like the antigens discovered on sure varieties of purple blood cells. 

“What’s particular in regards to the mucosa is that micro organism, that are capable of dwell on this materials, typically have tailored enzymes to interrupt down mucosal sugar buildings, which embody blood group ABO antigens,” professor Maher Abou Hachem, the research chief at DTU, mentioned in an announcement.

“This speculation turned out to be appropriate.”

A diagram illustrates the use of enzymes found in human gut bacterium to strip red blood cells of their antigens
Photograph courtesy of Mathias Jensen/Technical College of Denmark

Researchers examined 24 enzymes to course of tons of of blood samples and located that their “enzyme cocktails” might take away kind A and B antigens, in addition to some variants which have, till now, been deemed unusable for transfusions.

“We’re near having the ability to produce common blood from group B donors, whereas there may be nonetheless work to be achieved to transform the extra complicated group A blood,” Abou Hachem mentioned.

“Our focus is now to analyze intimately if there are further obstacles and the way we are able to enhance our enzymes to achieve the last word objective of common blood manufacturing.”

A discovery 40 years within the making

The scientists behind this discovery constructed their research on work that started greater than 40 years in the past, when the thought to make use of enzymes as a option to generate common donor blood was first launched.

Since then, extra extremely environment friendly enzymes have been found. However as Abou Hachem mentioned, there may be nonetheless work to be achieved earlier than they’re utilized in medical apply. Researchers are nonetheless not capable of clarify or take away all immune reactions associated to the blood, so their work continues.

In any case, it’s life-saving work. 

“Common blood will create a extra environment friendly utilization of donor blood,” professor Martin L. Olsson, the chief of the research at Lund College, mentioned. 

Common blood will even assist curb errors like giving ABO-mismatched transfusions, he mentioned. 

“After we can create ABO-universal donor blood, we are going to simplify the logistics of transporting and administering protected blood merchandise, whereas on the identical time minimizing blood waste,” he added.

The researchers have utilized for a patent on their enzyme methodology, and in keeping with DTU, anticipate to make additional progress throughout the subsequent three-and-a-half years. 

This might result in managed affected person trials, and hopefully, a scalable methodology of universalizing blood varieties that’s viable for business manufacturing and medical use.

Header picture courtesy of Adrian Sulyok on Unsplash

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