One Step Closer to Universal Blood Donations

Everybody knows that there’s different blood types, but no one really knows why. Well it’s actually more simple than you think; both A and B blood types carry two different types of residues, while AB has a mix of both and O carries neither. Because O is free of this residue it can be universally shared between all of the blood types.

Some of the issue we’ve had with blood donations is that they’ve been type specific, limiting the amount of people a single donation could help. Well, scientists at the University of British Columbia of Canada saw this problem and finally may have discovered a solution. Working with a strain of streptococcus pneumoniae known as 98 glycoside hydrolase, the team was able to produce a strain that would eat away at the residues on the blood cells. This process has taken many generations of the strains lifespan, but they’ve finally managed to accomplish what no one else has.

Utilizing what’s known as directed evolution – a technology allowing them to insert multiple mutations into the gene code of an original strain, the scientists went through generations until finally happening on the one that had enough strength to eat away at the residues. The current strain is 170 times more powerful than its parent thanks to the process, and can effectively make A, B or AB blood types closer to O; but it can’t remove all of the residue entirely.

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Up until now this enzyme has been known in the medical world for its effects; but it was never imagined to be feasible from the amount of the enzyme you would need. With this new research it makes everything more practical, and more medically possible to be the solution we need.

Researchers are confident that with these new findings they’re well on their way to 100% residue removal; opening the doors for so many in need of blood. Stephen Withers, one of the members of the University team stated in a press release, “Given our success so far, we are optimistic that this will work.” If the researchers are optimistic, who am I to disagree?


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