Blood Shortage

Breakthrough Could Mean End Of Blood Shortages

Researchers have developed a simple method of converting blood from one group to another. It’s a breakthrough the could mean the end of blood shortages by boosting supplies of group O negative blood, which can be given to anyone.

Researchers writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, described how they converted blood from group A, B or AB to group O.

The process uses bacterial enzymes to cut sugar molecules from the surface of red blood cells.

Giving patients the wrong blood may result in a severe immune reaction and even death.

People in groups A and B have blood containing one of two different sugar molecules which can trigger an immune response. Those in group O have neither of these “antigens”, while those in group AB have both.

Patients produce antibodies against the antigens they lack.

The scientists, led by Prof Henrik Clausen, from the University of Copenhagen, started by screening 2,500 types of fungi and bacteria looking for useful proteins.

Two bacteriums, Elizabethkingia meningosepticum, and Bacterioides fragilis, yielded enzymes capable of removing both A and B antigens from red blood cells.

Patient trials will have to take place before group O blood produced by the conversion method can be used in hospitals.