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Enzymes produced by gut bacteria can make universal blood more efficiently

Date: 27.8.2018 

For several decades researchers have been working to find an effective way to convert one blood type into another. Type O blood, often considered the universal blood type, is most useful in emergency situations. 
Kredit: U.S. Navy.

New research presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society has revealed that an enzyme produced by gut bacteria could be the key to safely and easily turning type A and B blood into type O.

"We have been particularly interested in enzymes that allow us to remove the A or B antigens from red blood cells," says Stephen Withers, one of the researchers on the project from the University of British Columbia (UBC). "If you can remove those antigens, which are just simple sugars, then you can convert A or B to O blood." A number of different enzymes have been targeted in experiments over the years, but nothing has been found that has proven to be comprehensively effective, safe and economical.

Back in 2015, a team from the University of British Columbia revealed one of the most promising developments in the field to date, creating a mutant enzyme that was selectively evolved to be more effective at attacking the target antigens. Now, Withers and colleagues at UBC have homed in on a potentially more effective enzyme that is produced by the human gut microbiome.

The team set out to sample the genes of millions of microorganisms, searching for genes coded to produce specific enzymes that target sugar residues. The search focused in on enzymes produced by gut bacteria that were known to feed on sugars that are similar in structure to the antigens on A- and B-type blood cells. A new family of enzymes was discovered that the researchers claim is 30 times more effective at clearing antigens off blood cells than any other enzymes they have previously studied.

 


 

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