Scientists have recently discovered that a gut bacteria can be used to change A blood type into the universal donor type, O much quicker than previous methods. This discovery could be life-saving; meaning that there could be less of a shortage of donated blood.
“This technique could broaden the utility of the current blood supply because O type blood can be donated to anybody,” says Steve Withers at the University of British Columbia, who presented this work on August 21 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society. He says it may prove especially useful in an emergency situation. Becuase there may not be time to do a full check to get a good match it is important to have enough type-O blood to use is so important for health services, according to the BBC.
The idea of changing blood type with enzymes is not new. In fact, other scientists, as well as the British Columbia team, have been exploring it for some time. But researcher Stephen Withers, who is presenting his findings at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in Boston, said the gut enzymes represented the most promising treatment so far.
“I am optimistic that we have a very interesting candidate to adjust donated blood to a common type,” said Withers. “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. It works in whole blood, so you could see this being put into the bag at the time of collection and just sitting there doing its job while this stuff is being stored.”
In laboratory tests, the gut enzymes were able to completely convert blood type A to O but researchers still would like to test more samples before rolling out trials at clinics. “Obviously, the next stages are all about safety, making sure this doesn’t cause any inadvertent effects,” Withers said.
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