“Hang a unit of O-neg, stat!”
Words that are heard time and again on every medical drama on TV. Radio ads from Canadian Blood Services like to remind us that it can take 50 units of blood to save a car crash victim, but O-negative blood (which can be given to patients of all blood types) is in short supply and some blood types are very rare. What do you do when a patient needs a blood transfusion but you haven’t had time to type and match their blood, or you don’t have their blood type in the blood bank? It’s a problem that scientists have been working on for years but haven’t been able to find a cost-effective solution for – until now.
The Withers Lab at the Centre for High-Throughput Biology, in collaboration with scientists in the Centre for Blood Research at UBC, has created an enzyme that could potentially solve this problem. The enzyme works by snipping off the antigens found in Type A and Type B blood, making it more like Type O. This research was just published in Journal of the American Chemical Society
To read more about this study, please read these stories: UBC News and American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology