Researchers Have Successfully Converted Type A Blood To Type O

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Researchers Have Successfully Converted Type A Blood To Type O

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A huge number of people perish each year across the globe due to a shortage of blood transfusion stocks. On paper, almost 55 million litres of blood is donated annually worldwide, but in reality, incompatibility between the blood types implies that a person may not always receive a transfusion. However, researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a method using which type A blood can be converted into type O universal blood type. 

Type O blood is compatible with anyone who has Rhesus (Rh) positive blood. Hence, it is considered as the universal blood type, since it can be transfused with anyone who has A+, B+, AB+, or O+ blood, which comprises about 75% of the total population. Postdoctoral researcher Peter Rahfeld has discovered a way via which enzymes can be used to transform type A red blood cells into universal type O blood cells. As per reports, this development can potentially double the stock of transfusion blood in the world.

If a person with type A blood is accidentally transfused with type B blood, the B antigens present in the transfused blood would cause the anti-B antibodies to attack the blood cells in a fatal manner, which would consequently result in the death of the person. On the other hand, type O red blood cells don’t have both the A and B antigens on their surface, instead, they harbour a neutral “H” antigen instead. This means anyone can be compatible with the aforementioned blood type.

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In order to convert blood types, the lead researcher and his team have made use of a bacterial enzyme that resides in the human gut to remove all traces of A antigens simply by converting them into H antigens. They further identified genes that encode two enzymes which can remove facilitating components of the A antigen. When the enzymes were added to type A blood, they stripped the blood of all A type antigens, essentially converting them to Universal Type O cells. These findings may significantly increase the number of lives saved across the globe. However, it will take a fair share of time for this research to be applied to humans on a large scale. 

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Anubhav Sharma
Game Geek, Hardware fanatic and Troubled by Repetitive Music. Anubhav covers Tech & Alt at iGyaan; Science, Medicine and Games