British researchers convert blood type Was type-O “universal donor”

Many research studies are intended to produce blood – “universal donor” since its existence is known. Researchers had already attempted to produce blood O negative by removing all the proteins responsible for type A, B, or AB in a sample of blood, but with a success very relative.

Peter Rahefeld, a researcher from the University of British Columbia came to a breakthrough, as the relays Science. It has extracted an enzyme from a bacterium of the digestive tract, Flavonifractor plautii. This enzyme has had an incredible effect on the blood group A : the proteins responsible of the group Has disappeared, giving a group O- “universal donor” from the group, the more common. The research group still needs to find a way to control the results very accurately, but the implications could be colossal in terms of public health.

The management of the blood, a major public health problem

The management of stocks of blood is a logistical headache for all the moments to health-care professionals. The hospitals in particular are huge consumers of blood for three reasons : blood transfusions, routine, surgical operations and blood supply to the injured during emergency operations.

For any transfusion, it is necessary to be particularly attentive to the blood group. It is determined by the presence, or absence, of proteins to the surface of red blood cells. There are four : A, B, AB and O, complemented by a rhesus (+ or -). However, all of these groups are not compatible between them : if blood of the wrong group is transfused inadvertently, the consequences can be dramatic. The immune system will get rid of by destroying these red blood cells foreign, except that this debris of red blood cells can trigger a chain reaction serious : we speak of a hemolytic reaction, potentially fatal.

To avoid this scenario, a single solution : ensure the compatibility of the recipient with the blood that they wished to transfuse. But how to do it in emergency, or when the recipient is unconscious ? Impossible to risk a shock hemolytic : we fall back on blood type O negative, known to be a “universal donor” whose blood can be transfused to anyone without risk.


You would think that it would be sufficient to do considerable stocks of blood type O-, but a big problem arises : only 7% of the population has a blood O-negative. Gold reserves of blood to the Etablissement Français du Sang are already very low, and they call regularly to the donation because the blood is preserved very poorly (42 days for red blood cells) and it is therefore necessary to renew the stock permanently. This blood shortage is not limited to France : it affects the entire world and especially the war zones. Be able to convert the type of blood the most common blood that can be transfused to anyone without risk would therefore be a major advance, if this discovery could be applied on a large scale.