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Tuesday, April 3rd 2007

Calling All Type O Donors No More

Could enzymes chew up the type A and B antigens on blood and allow such blood to be used in anyone?

The A and B antigens, which give blood groups their name, are sugars carried on the surface of red blood cells. Human red blood cells can carry one of these antigens, both, or neither; giving four blood groups: A, B, AB and O, respectively. Receiving mismatched blood can cause a life-threatening reaction, and errors are made in 1 in every 15,000 transfusions, on average.

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The researchers homed in on two enzymes. One, from a gut bacterium called Bacteroides fragilis, removes the B antigen. The other, from Elizabethkingia meningosepticum – which causes opportunistic infections in people – targets the A antigen. The purified enzymes are highly efficient.

Sweet sweetness

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