Canadian researchers have discovered that an enzyme in the gut microbiota can turn any group blood into universal blood. They must now conduct large-scale clinical trials.
Universal blood has been the subject of scientific research for years. Around the world, researchers are trying to find the ideal combination to make it. Canadian scientists may have been able to develop it. They presented the results of their latest work on August 21 in Boston at the 256th meeting of the American Chemical Society: an enzyme present in the intestine would be able to “clean” any blood to make a blood universal. Eurekalert relayed their conclusions.
Today, only the blood of group O is universal. The others have specific antigens, which can cause serious reactions if a person receives the wrong blood in transfusion. The technique developed by Canadian researchers at the University of British Columbia removes these antigens with an enzyme. The latter is present in the digestive tract where it destroys the sugars present, which resemble those found in the cells of groups A, B and AB. When the enzyme comes into contact with the blood of one of these groups, it absorbs these sugars and the blood becomes similar to that of the O group. It would be 30 times more effective than the previous enzymes tested to clean the blood.
The researchers now have to run clinical trials to test the enzyme on a large scale. “We have to do a lot of clinical trials to make sure there are no side effects, but it’s really promising,” says Stephen Withers, one of the main authors of this research. If the tests are conclusive, this artificial blood could allow to have bigger reserves of blood and to save more lives.