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Study: Changing Blood Group May Become a Reality Now

By: Team Ifairer | Posted: 15-06-2019
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Study: Changing Blood Group May Become a Reality Now
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In the latest research published in Nature Microbiology on June 10, scientists from University of British Columbia have reported that their research on gut microbes in humans showed that the gut microbes produce two enzymes that can convert the common type A into a more universally accepted one. If the process turns out well, it can revolutionise blood donation and transfusion.

"This is a first, and if these data can be replicated, it is certainly a major advance," -says Harvey Klein, a blood transfusion expert at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland. Mr. Klein was not involved in the reported study.

Blood groups are determined in terms of presence of sugar molecules on the surfaces of the red blood cells. A person having blood group A has a particular sugar coating on the red blood cell surface, called the antigen A and so on. The O group blood has neither antigen A, nor antigen B on the surfaces of the red blood cells. The lack of the antigens in A type blood ensures that it can be transfused to a person of any other blood type and this makes O blood the universal one, especially important in emergency rooms, where the doctors and nurses might not have any time to determine the blood group of the patient who needs an urgent transfusion.

As per WHO data, about 42% of the world's blood donations are collected in high-income countries, which have only 16% of the world's population. This clears out a picture of blood shortage in emergency. For instance, India has an annual blood shortage of 30 lakhs unit, according to a 2017 report. Moreover, India still lacks good healthcare infrastructure, especially in remote villages. So, when someone is in emergency and needs blood urgently, and has no viable donors among family members or friends, a good chance is that they won't get any blood. That's why the latest research is important.

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