How Can Gut Bacteria Enzymes Help in Creating Universal Blood for Transfusions?

How Can Gut Bacteria Enzymes Help in Creating Universal Blood for Transfusions?

Gut Bacteria Enzyme Converts Blood to Universally Compatible Blood Group

In a major breakthrough that could potentially revolutionize blood transfusions, researchers have discovered an enzyme produced by gut bacteria that can convert any blood group to the universal donor group O.

Harnessing Gut Microbiota for Universal Blood

Our blood type is determined by antigens, sugar molecules on the surface of red blood cells. When receiving a blood transfusion, a patient’s blood type must match the donor’s to avoid immune reactions.

Group O blood, which lacks A and B antigens, is the universal donor, capable of being transfused to any blood type. However, only a small percentage of people have type O blood, creating a critical shortage.

Enzymatic Conversion to Group O

Researchers have been exploring ways to convert other blood groups to O to address this shortage. A promising approach involves using enzymes that break down A and B antigens.

In a study published in Nature Microbiology, scientists identified an enzyme combination from the gut bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila that efficiently removes A and B antigens, as well as their extended versions, from red blood cells.

Improved Compatibility with Group O Plasma

By treating red blood cells with the enzyme combination, researchers were able to significantly improve their compatibility with group O plasma. This suggests that the enzyme-converted blood could be safely transfused into any recipient, regardless of their blood type.

The researchers also showed that the enzyme treatment did not alter the functionality of the red blood cells, ensuring their ability to carry oxygen.

Expanding Blood Donor Pool

“A universal group O blood inventory would offer an attractive solution to blood shortages and reduce outdating of blood units,” said Professor Mads Habib Hachem, lead author of the study.

“Our work demonstrates the potential of gut bacteria specialists for the discovery of efficient human glycoconjugate-active enzymes,” added Professor Michael Olsson, another author of the study.

Future Research and Clinical Applications

While the findings are promising, further research is needed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the enzyme treatment in clinical settings.

If successful, this approach could significantly expand the pool of eligible blood donors, reducing the risk of blood shortages and saving lives.

By Mehek

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