Published On: Tue, Aug 21st, 2018

Human Gut Bacteria May Provide Key to Making Universal Blood

Universal blood Type    health, red, image

Canadian scientists say they have identified enzymes — from the human gut — that can turn type A and B blood into O. Thier discovery could make blood donation fateful, especially in times of medical emergency.

If a medical situation needs a blood transfusion in an emergency, and there is no time to process the recipient’s blood, O blood can be issued.

People with Type O blood can receive blood only from Type O blood donors, but can donate blood to anyone of any ABO blood group. They considered as a universal blood type donors. Because Type O blood is compatible with anyone, O negative blood is often overused and consequently is always in short supply.

Now researchers at the University of British Columbia decided to look for enzymes that might be able to remove the sugary antigens on Type A and Type B from red blood cells.

Researcher Stephen Withers, says. “If you can remove those antigens, which are just simple sugars, then you can convert A or B to O blood.”

He explained in a statement that scientists have long been interested in finding an idea of adjusting donated blood to a common type for a while, but they have yet to find efficient, selective enzymes for removing the A or B antigens from red blood cells.

Withers and his team have sampled the genes of millions of microorganisms but found best candidates in the enzymes of bacteria that live in the human gut and that aid in digestion can cleave sugar residues.  They actually found an entire family of enzymes that gut bacteria use to polish sugars off mucins, which are the proteins that line the gut wall.

Withers’ team considered sampling DNA from mosquitoes and leeches, the types of organisms that degrade blood, but ultimately found successful candidate enzymes of bacteria that live in the human gut and that aid in digestion can cleave sugar residues.

Glycosylated proteins called mucins line the gut wall, providing sugars that serve as attachment points for gut bacteria while also feeding them as they assist in digestion. Some of the mucin sugars are similar in structure to the antigens on A- and B-type blood.

The researchers focused on the enzymes the bacteria use to pluck the sugars off mucin and found a new family of enzymes that are 30 times more effective at removing red blood cell antigens than previously reported candidates.

The team will present the results of their research so far on Tuesday morning at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in Boston.

The team is now working with colleagues at the Centre for Blood Research at UBC to test the enzymes on a larger scale, with the aim of then moving into clinical testing.

“I am optimistic that we have a very interesting candidate to adjust donated blood to a common type,” Withers said.

“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.”


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