Since Type ‘O’ blood is universal donor, researchers have achieved to make other Type A and Type B groups of blood into former, a breakthrough in making all donated blood into universal group.
The main difference between A, B and O blood types is the presence of slightly different sugar structures on the outside of the red blood cells of each type. Type A and B blood cells each have a single additional sugar attached to their surface, compared to ‘O’ group.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia, including Indian-origin Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu, have created a new enzyme that could snip off the antigens and make the A and B blood groups become universal ‘O’ type.
“We produced a mutant enzyme that is very efficient at cutting off the sugars in A and B blood,” said David Kwan, a post-doctoral fellow in the UBC’s Department of Chemistry.
Using a newly developed directed evolution, researchers were able to insert mutants into the gene that codes the enzyme, effectively suppressing the antigens.
Into its fifth generation, the enzyme achieved 170 times improvement in removing the antigens in Type A and Type B blood groups.
Howeer, the enzyme is yet to achieve 100 percent success to launch clinical trials as immune system attacks even small amount of antigens in the body.
Published in Journal of the American Chemical Society, the concept is not new but researchers needed so much of the enzyme to make it work. “Now I’m confident that we can take this a whole lot further,” says Prof. Steve Withers of the UBC Department of Chemistry.