Getting you quickly from A to O…
Blood: it’s essential to emergency services and surgery, stemming haemorrhages, treating cancers and managing blood diseases, needed every day to save lives, and this need has been constantly growing over the last 20 years.
More specifically, the need for blood donations has increased by 1 to 3% every year since 2002, notably due to longer life expectancy and medical advances. Unfortunately, the number of donations has simultaneously been stagnating, meaning researchers have had to come up with more and more solutions to compensate for supplies that could dangerously dwindle.
One such solution the scientific community is working hard on is to transform type A blood into type O. Given that type A is the most common and type O is the universal donor, this could be a particularly valuable transformation.
One study 1 published in June 2019 in Nature Microbiology demonstrated this manipulation to be possible using the action of the intestinal microbiota enzymes. They report that two enzymes of the Flavonifractor plautii bacteria offer the capacity to convert A antigens to H antigens, consequently enabling a type A- O conversion. Further studies on this exciting development should follow – watch this space!
1) Peter Rahfeld, Lyann Sim, Haisle Moon, et al. An enzymatic pathway in the human gut microbiome that converts A to universal O type blood. Nature Microbiology, 2019.