Friday, August 24, 2018

New Enzyme Helps Turn A or B Blood into Universal O

Article Written By: Teresa Marotta


A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia found enzymes from the human gut that remove A or B antigens from red blood cells 30 times more efficiently than other reported enzymes.

“We have been particularly interested in enzymes that allow us to remove the A or B antigens from red blood cells. If you can remove those antigens, which are just simple sugars, then you can convert A or B to O blood,” said Dr. Stephen Withers, who headed the researchers.

The purpose of this is to adjust donated blood to a common type, so it can be readily used by most people. In order to assess potential enzyme candidates quickly, the research team used a technique called metagenomics.

“With metagenomics, you take all of the organisms from an environment and extract the sum total DNA of those organisms all mixed up together,” Dr. Withers said. “Casting such a wide net allows us to sample the genes of millions of microorganisms without the need for individual cultures. We then use E. coli to select for DNA containing genes that code for enzymes that can cleave sugar residues.”

After the team considered using DNA from mosquitoes and leeches (types of organisms that degrade blood), they later found success with enzymes in the human gut microbiome. The research team is now working to validate the enzymes, test them on a larger scale, and eventually to carry out “directed evolution” in order to create the most efficient sugar-removing enzyme.

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