enzymes that can make your blood "universal" can revolutionize transfusions

Thanks to a family of enzymes produced by intestinal bacteria, researchers have succeeded in getting O blood to Group A from the start. A major breakthrough that could help to put an end to the recurring threat of blood shortage.

10,000. This is the number of blood donations needed every day in France to meet the needs of patients, as the French blood group (EFS) has regularly reminded. A just-in-time offer that experiences periods of stress, where the shortage threatens. In question, the lack of donors, especially those in the O group, is called "universal".

But the results of a survey presented at a meeting of theAThe Merican Chemical Society that took place this week in Boston, USA, now offers hope to someday overcome this recurring problem. Researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada, claim to have found the key to transforming blood from group A into its universal equivalent, group O.

At the root of this wonder solution: an enzyme produced by bacteria in the intestines … "This has always been the biggest challenge "says lead author Stephen Withers. In the past, scientists had already discovered enzymes that could transform group B blood into group O blood, but it had never been possible to convert group A blood into group A.

A general method

To achieve this, Canadian researchers have extracted DNA from all bacteria that live in our digestive system. A method known as metagenomics. "With metagenomics we take all organisms in an environment and we extract all the DNA from these organisms, all mixed together "says Stephen Withers.

The specialist and his team were able to obtain the genetic plan of all functions performed by these micro-organisms. Among them: the one that consists of removing their sugar proteins that run along the walls of the digestive tract: mucin. And it is exactly this capacity that was used then.

The blood groups A, B and AB indeed have their origin in the antigens that are present on the surface of red blood cells. Inherited substances that are naturally protein, but also glycolipid, glycoprotein or simple carbohydrate: in short, wholly or partly composed of sugars. An important target for gut bacteria that are hungry for glucose.

Timely agreements

The structure of some mucin sugars is in fact in all respects similar to that of blood group A and B antigens. The researchers therefore tried to identify the group of enzymes that enable bacteria to remove the mucin from their cells. sugars. Their purpose: to use these substances to reproduce the same mechanism on the surface of the red blood cells, and thus to discharge them from their carbohydrate antigens. A strategy that has paid off.

The family of enzymes discovered by scientists has turned out to be 30% more effective than those used in the past to remove antigens on the surface of red blood cells. A significant advance that leads to great therapeutic expectations: "I am optimistic that we have a very interesting candidate to adjust blood [issu] donations to a widespread type "Stephen Withers glimpse.

"Of course, many clinical trials are needed to ensure that it does not have any adverse effects, but it looks promising, " he decides with enthusiasm. The beginning perhaps of the end of a recurrent deficit. In the meantime, blood flow remains low, as EFS has recently warned. A good reason to give him his!

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