A way of converting blood from groups A, B and AB into group O is described online this week in Nature Biotechnology. The method, which converts the blood using newly discovered enzymes, promises to make blood transfusions safer and relieve shortages of group O blood.
Blood from group A, B and AB individuals can only be given to certain people, as opposed to group O blood, which can be given to anyone and is therefore considered 'universal.' Correct matching of donated blood according to the ABO blood group system is critical to ensuring the safety of blood transfusions. Rare mistakes in which an individual is transfused with an incompatible blood type continue to occur, leading to severe and even fatal reactions.
Clausen and colleagues describe newly isolated enzymes that allow group A, B and AB red blood cells to be converted into group O cells, as assessed by standard tests. The enzymes remove cell-surface sugar molecules that trigger an immune reaction against the cells in unmatched recipients. The next step in the development of this technology is clinical trials to determine whether universal blood produced by this method is safe and effective.
Henrik Clausen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Biotechnology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza